Keys to Keeping Pace with Technology Changes in Healthcare Landscape

Anjana Harve, CIO, HillromIn your experience as a CIO, what are the implications of technology implementation in your industry?

I am in the life science/healthcare industry which is a highly regulated industry, and so historically it’s not been an early adopter of technologies. But over the last couple of years, there has been a lot of interest, given the technology advances that have taken place. There is a lot of value that we are starting to see in exploiting these technologies. So we are at a prime time of taking advantage of it compared to other industries that might have done so earlier. If you think about the IoT devices, there is an explosion of data using AI and machine learning, which synthesizes a large volume of data, which can help generate a lot of insights. Translating this to the healthcare space, it means that we now have easy access to health metrics, vitals and other related data through wearable technology and can connect it with information that may exist in electronic medical records. Data is creating the ability to drive a lot of insights, not just for the patient but also for manufacturers and hospitals to improve care.

What are some of the opportunities for digital technology transformation in the healthcare industry?

I think if you look at it from a patient perspective; giving the right information at the right time to change behavior can be powerful. Adherence is a big problem in the healthcare industry – sometimes patients may not take the right pills at the right time or follow up on the care that they are supposed to be receiving. So equipping and empowering patients with the right information is one side of how the technology can be applied. Patients need to be more intelligent about what’s going on around their own health, and the more empowered they are, the better off they can be – they are a key part of the care system.

On a different front, hospitals want to ensure that they treat patients well and don’t have a lot of readmissions. Data collected from multiple sources can provide physicians the right information to proactively diagnose issues and provide the needed care to the patient, right the first time. So it is critical for hospitals to be able to connect disparate systems and IOT devices, to use advanced analytics to synthesize and derive insights that improve the quality of care.

Lastly looking at it from a pharma or med device company lens, there is a fantastic opportunity to understand the ecosystem of care and determine the effectiveness of their therapy or device. The data collected can help improve research, provide predictive and proactive alerts to the caregivers to prevent issues, enhance quality of life etc.

Digital technologies definitely have a tremendous opportunity to improve the future of healthcare.

Could you elaborate on the challenges that organizations will need to address in terms of deploying technology at the enterprise?

A big challenge is keeping up with the pace of change and the explosion of new technologies.
As CIOs, we need to ensure that these technologies can be secured and allow for it to be scaled and leveraged at the enterprise level. We need to figure out ways to match the pace of the changing environment while keeping operational systems up and running. We have to be fast and agile but simultaneously need to think about cybersecurity and adequately protect the organization.

It is important to start with the end in mind. Defining the right use cases of where we can take advantage of data is necessary

The second challenge is around up-skilling the internal talent in the organization. There are a plethora of new technologies growing at a tremendous pace. It is important to future proof ourselves and ensure that we have the right skills in the organization to meet our needs. So it is important to up-skill internal talent while infusing some new talent to bring in new skills and perspectives. This is very much top of mind for me as I want to make sure that our internal team is well prepared and equipped to partner closely with the business stakeholders to take advantage of all the opportunities made possible by technology.

The third challenge is around preparing the organization to accept and adopt change. Technology has the power of driving a significant change in the way we do things. It is critical that we help people adopt these new tools, capitalize on all that it has to offer and take advantage of the change. However this is far from easy. It is probably the biggest challenge in technology implementations. It requires a lot of thoughtful preparation and focus to prepare and ready the organization for the change.

Large volumes of the data are being generated at this point of time with the implementation of technology and with IOT devices, AI and ML. So when it does come to strategizing or having an approach in managing this data efficiently what would your approach be in this particular regard?

The important thing is to first understand what we want to get out of that data. Just because there's a lot of data does not mean automatically mean there is value. So defining the right use cases of where we can potentially take advantage of data and outlining the value proposition at the end of the day is necessary. Sometimes unfortunately organizations end up spending a lot of money implementing technologies without thinking about what they want to get out of it. So it’s important to have a clear picture of what the use cases are and when and how it can benefit us to get the maximum value.

Put together cross functional teams and empower them to think about different ways to utilize the data and get the most value from it. Give them a challenge to solve – whether it is a new model for selling or improving R&D productivity, it helps drive focus on solving current challenges and / or capitalize on opportunities.

Another best practice that we're trying to do is to have teams take a human centric design approach to solving challenges. By putting oneself in the shoes of a patient, a stakeholder, internal or external customer enables teams to think about what we can to improve outcomes for them. This allows teams to then start thinking about where and how a company can start to better leverage information, to produce those right outcomes.

Can you tell us about a latest project that you have been working on and what are some of the technological and process elements that you leveraged to make the project successful?

Quite often digital projects are undertaken to solve an issue in one part of the organization or to meet certain needs in a particular area. But to drive true transformation, one has to think broad, think bold. That’s exactly what we have done and have recently embarked on a large digital transformation that is looking at the entire ecosystem across the company, targeting opportunities to improve business outcomes through process improvements and technology enablers. Putting together a strategy that encompasses a holistic picture has been critical to us. We are tackling process simplification and improvements in conjunction with technology implementation as part of this journey. We are bringing the right teams together to brainstorm and evaluate end-to-end processes across the organization and determine which areas are critical to differentiate vs not. True transformation can be achieved only if you tackle issues from the three angles of people, process and technology. Having the right cultural elements of agility, experimentation and risk taking are key ingredients to get the best outcomes. It has been exciting to see our internal team members come together to co-create the future model for the organization.