Healthcare technology strategy in the
fast-moving digital age
Terryl and Pam run Seamless Strategy, an Enterprise consulting group. Since 1985, their work has focused on helping Enterprises, and the people who run them, successfully meet challenges they must face to unfold their future.
Are you the windshield or the bug? Do you impose on the marketplace, or is the marketplace really imposing on you? The truth is, sometimes we have difficulty not being the bug! Nowhere is this truer than in the modern technical world of healthcare, where things are vast, fast, and generally too dynamic to control.
“Strategy” can be defined as imposing your will on the marketplace. You are in front of trends and have a solid handle on where these trends are leading your business.
But the key to prevailing in the marketplace is not strategic planning but strategic thinking. In this, you can anticipate moves, countermoves, and find creative ways to be in the right place at the right time with the right stuff.
Strategic Leadership in healthcare
In the 21st century, technology is the best vehicle to put you and your organization in that position.
Asking yourself these questions can get you started:
1. What do I want to happen?
2. Using your imagination, ask: how should this happen?
3. What would it take to make this dream a reality?
While doing this exercise, don’t let worries shut down your dreams or prevent you from thinking big. Only when you begin to dream can you then think about how to make it a reality.
Now, a reality check: do you know what is happening with technology these days, or are you sticking to only the tools to which you’re accustomed? If you’re not staying abreast of current trends, your dream may live only in another era.
Technology is a funny thing. On the one hand, it helps you adapt to what’s happening in your field. On the other hand, it’s moving so fast that it requires you to adapt to the reality it creates. The societal impact of technology has been to accelerate change and create frequent, shorter developmental phases. Revolutions, today as always, can be messy. It’s easy for even technologists to miss the revolution in some sector other than the one in which they are deep-diving. In healthcare, this is especially true since the industry tends to follow technology trends in industries where lives are not on the line.
If you’re going to anticipate moves and countermoves, timing is critical. If you hit too early, you could buy an expensive technology product that doesn’t yet work right. Too late, and you are a thing of the past. You’ve got to hit it right on the money to make or save real money. For example, it’s far too early for conservative facilities in healthcare to be thinking about integrating a blockchain solution, but the time is ripe for chatbots to improve efficiency and patient experience. So you should understand and be tracking the trends in blockchain and chatbots to know when it’s right for you to bring an emerging technology into your organization.
Tips for Keeping up strategically
So, what are some tips for keeping up strategically?
- Follow the leaders. You want to learn from those who are ahead of the curve. As you watch the future unfold on the Product Adoption Curve, who are those folks in the category before your own that you should watch? Continue following your favorite tech gurus, but also look for people who are changing the world and tech is their mechanism. One of my favorites is Neelley Hicks (https://neelleyhicks.com/ @nneelley) and her NGO, Harper Hill Global (http://harperhill.global/). Neelley helped me understand Information and Communications Technology for Development (#ICT4D), where technologists in developing countries need to base their work on the cell phone and low cost, accessible energy. Those needs are remarkably different than our hyperconnected needs in the West, where the internet and electricity are broadly accessible.
- Broaden your perspective beyond technology! A wide band of input sourcing is vital now that technology is an assumptive element rather than a novel element in, well, everything. In his book “Thank You for Being Late,” Thomas Friedman says, “Indeed, as the world becomes more interdependent and complex, it becomes more vital than ever to widen your aperture and to synthesize more perspectives.” This means that you should pay attention to art, music, and seemingly unrelated and activities to business. All of these point to a broad “zeitgeist” that will help you become active rather than passive in the revolution going on around you.
- Have a plan and work it! Genuinely develop and utilize a system for both taking in and reflecting upon data. Consider experiences you see every day. In short, take time to Stop, Think, and Imagine – and not just by yourself. More heads are better than one. Identify the people, set meetings, and use products and processes that facilitate discussing emerging technologies and the human and organizational changes in the marketplace. Make this happen regularly; pizza and beer help!
The excitement and stress of our current era are unparalleled. Congratulations for having the chance to participate in it! Now, go make history – and some money! But you will likely find that despite your high falootin technology, imposing your will on the marketplace will take the same ingredients it always has: understanding the human resources available to you, paying attention to them in conversation, and thinking about their input as you create and reach toward your vision.