In my long tenure as CIO at a large scholastic health system, I was typically confronted by senior members of the medical, nursing, or administrative staff, simply back from a conference: “I saw a demonstration of this next-generation electronic-health-records system. Incredible! It conserves lives, lowers expenses, enhances the patient experience, and trims yards! We require to implement it here! It would transform us!”
Or a board member would weigh in: “We need to be aggressively pursuing synthetic intelligence!
These discussions constantly left me with a sinking sensation. It’s not that I don’t like technology. What I don’t like is innovation thought about in a vacuum, without regard to the bigger image.
AI, the next-generation electronic-health-records (EHR) system, or any number of other glossy items brought to my attention in this method may be really important. They might advance the organization’s strategies magnificently. They may make it possible for strategies that we hadn’t even considered before. They might be the key to our survival.
Or they might not. They might waste cash and time, divert us from our goals, and permit more disciplined rivals to consume our lunch with better technology choices and better execution.
I had to establish a method to identify whether a shiny object had substantial potential or was a looming train wreck — a method I will share in this article.
Successful tech applications get all the attention; everyone wants to be the next Uber, Netflix, or Amazon. But they are surpassed by the failures. Organizations large and little have fallen victim to the lure of shiny objects, whether rushing into ecommerce without thinking things through, deploying technology that quickly ends up being obsolete, or over- or ignoring customers’ interest in doing everything via an app. ( This short article is a good chronicle of how big name business came to digital sorrow.)
Sometimes what sounds like a great concept is a bad idea.
Sometimes even if the tech is ready, an organization may not be. Countless health care service providers rushed to abide by the 2010 federal required to embrace electronic health records and take advantage of the aids offered just to discover that they had murky understanding of how to utilize the technology to improve care.
How do we determine which glossy items will suit the network of steady, healthy relationships that comprise a reliable digital change and which ones will leave us broken-hearted and fodder for a case research study of what not to do? How do we withstand the siren call of an amazing demonstration and, instead, recommend our leaders take a cold shower when they get into an innovative state of innovation stimulation? Here are some tips.
Step 1. Focus on the improvement, not the digital.
Digital technologies are just important to the extent that they can be effectively used to achieve organizational goals So naturally, first you need to have organizational goals that are tough sufficient to both sustain a transformative innovation and resist the temptation to embrace an irrelevant one.
Suppose a health system embraces these 2 objectives:
- We will become a company of care and an insurance provider, leveraging both to advance care quality and performance.
- We will offer a first-rate service and care experience for our patients.
How does it use these objectives, this vision, to assess whether a digital technology is worth pursuing? Being both a provider and a payer alters a health system’s economic formula. Since it’s billing itself for the care it supplies, any technology needs to help it deliver both much better care and lower cost. And because it desires offer its patients a first-rate experience, its push for effectiveness need to likewise include personalization to keep patients from feeling like they’re getting cookie-cutter care.
Artificial intelligence might assist with both those objectives.
Nevertheless, for any number of wonder digital technologies, the relationship between their capabilities and organizational objectives is forgettable flirtation.
Step 2. Understand why a specific innovation may be an important tool.
What can a specific technology do that would make it powerful in achieving an objective? A health system should have the ability to state in a couple of sentences the core possible contribution of an innovation.
- Using AI to electronic-health-records information may allow us to quickly and efficiently recognize distinctions in the effectiveness of various treatments.
- AI-based bots that recognize emotions and cultural expressions may enable us to provide a richer call-center experience to our patients who have concerns about their health or recent bills.
The declaration of capabilities helps leadership comprehend why the technology might be important in addition to value the complete range of possible usages: acknowledging patterns in information such as conversational voice, evaluating radiology images, tracking medication-purchasing patterns to flag disease outbreaks, and potential medication side effects. A truly powerful technology will spread beyond its initial application.
Equally crucial are statements of possible constraints that can prevent the accomplishment of considerable worth. AI can suffer from bias and an inability to describe its reasoning.
By the way, digital improvement does not constantly require the current and greatest innovation. In some cases proven and fully grown innovations are quite approximately the task of making it possible for the organization to develop a fantastic, digitally-enabled future An early and (by today’s standards) unrefined version of AI included in many EHRs — scientific choice support (CDS) — sends out clinicians ideas and reminders and flags pertinent recent research study based on the details in the client’s record. While CDS can drive a clinician up the wall with too many suggestions, an appropriately released system can change care Lots of health centers dramatically minimized the number of patients who developed pneumonia while on a ventilator by adopting a package of basic practices to prevent infection and using their CDS to remind clinicians to utilize those practices.
Action 3. Select providers carefully.
As soon as you’ve chosen that a shiny object is worth pursuing, it’s time to sort through the lots of vendors who had actually love to offer you their specific version of it.
Overlook buzzwords: disruptive, solution, platform, environment, cloud. Make the vendor inform you what the shiny item does and what it has done for organizations like yours. (If yours is the first, that’s an entire different discussion.) Demand detailed descriptions of how the shiny object works and demos that give your staff an opportunity to try to break the things. Do recommendation checks — preferably with clients that aren’t on the standard recommendation list. Figure out to the best of your capability whether the vendor is likely to make it through for the complete period of any proposed agreement. If appropriate, evaluate whether the technology is subject to regulatory requirements.
Step 4. Participate in iterative knowing.
Shiny things can often reveal up dings, dents, and dirt in their environments. As you apply your recently gotten AI capability to determine treatment efficiency, you may have to lastly face up to and deal with the irregular, often poor quality of your EHR data.
The most transformative technologies normally take a while, and require a number of versions, to show their value and the change-management actions required to accomplish that value. A sage associate once told me that jumping too far too quickly can cause “a death by ants.” No single bite will eliminate you, but a thousand will. No matter how huge the action, some things will go wrong. If the action is too large, too many things fail, and real damage can result.
Take a step or more and after that examine. Then take another step or 2 and reassess.
One of my MBA students explained a medical facility client that was using his company’s innovation to keep an eye on the rehabilitation of middle-aged male patients recovering from heart attacks.
Through pilot testing, it became apparent that though the technology was slick and transmitted info as it should, the patients’ success or failure rested on how the care team responded to the info. Words of motivation when patients reported routine exercise sessions and words of concern when their weight started to approach had more of an effect on compliance than the mere capture and reporting of monitoring information. The director of the rehabilitation program stated the most important success aspect was the degree to which the patients felt that the team cared about them.
The team that was leading the pilots of the technology was reminded of the holistic context of patient care — the word “care” is there for a reason.
Step 5. Sustain the digital improvement.
To develop and sustain an environment friendly to digital improvement, a company requires a person, an unit, or a department (depending upon the size of the company) to constantly examine brand-new innovations and oversee the steps above.
When I was a CIO at Partners Health care, a scholastic health system that’s now called Mass General Brigham, we developed, within the infotech department, several centers that concentrated on essential aspects of expert system. One center determined the possible uses of large volumes of EHR data for scientific research study, post-market security, and identifying comparative efficiency of different treatments. Another center developed the innovation facilities needed to implement complicated medical decision support and artificial intelligence, and evaluated the effect of these innovations.
These centers, moneyed by the health system’s operating budgets and grants, guaranteed that there was a sustained, multi-year concentrate on understanding and implementing digital innovations considered to be particularly essential to the health system’s methods.
Creating sustained digital transformation needs recognizing three realities. Second, neither does technology development. Technology seduction will be a constant risk to any company that lacks a clear sense of what it desires from technology and why.