May 17, 2020

Healthcare providers: The route to digital transformation success

Hospital Leadership
Health technology
Digital health
Hospital Leadership
Mark E. Gilbert, Senior Direct...
4 min
digital transformation
Imagine the following situation: The CIO of a hospital group has beenasked, by the CEO,to develop a digital care business case to improve the lives of p...

Imagine the following situation: The CIO of a hospital group has been asked, by the CEO, to develop a digital care business case to improve the lives of patients with chronic conditions. This will impact the way the hospital delivers ambulatory, inpatient, outpatient and day surgery services; patient record access; and virtual care. Although a growing number of clinicians and managers support the idea, there’s no overall strategy or plan for a future of digital care delivery.

This is a typical scenario for many healthcare providers, and business leaders are looking to CIOs for ways to increase the success rate of innovation and business transformation initiatives.

Providers recognise the health and business benefits of delivering care digitally, yet a significant gap exists between their digital business goals and their ability to execute, particularly from a workforce skills perspective.

Improve the ability to execute

Healthcare CIOs have a critical role to play in improving their organisation’s ability to execute on its digital ambitions, and can do so through the below:

1. Lead the definition of digital business ambition

Providers are under pressure to reduce costs and improve clinical outcomes, as well as patient satisfaction. They are undertaking dozens, if not hundreds, of digital projects with these optimisation objectives every year.

The healthcare industry is also a fertile ground for digital transformation. Many providers are taking on initiatives to create and deliver entirely new digital products and services, or create new business models capable of making money in new ways.

Providers are blurring the boundaries of optimisation and transformation goals, confusing the race to achieve their digital ambitions. The role of the CIO is to lead the organisation in defining its digital business ambition in an environment where ambitions are sometimes contradictory. Healthcare CIO’s have to ask if they are trying to optimise or transform the way their company does business. CIOs should take the lead in setting the vision, business goals and appropriate measures of success for both digital optimization and digital transformation.

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2. Identify, measure and communicate the gap between ambition and capabilities

Most healthcare executives benchmark their digital ambitions against the services and capabilities offered by digital natives like Expedia, giants. They are also beginning to recognise the danger of disruption from digital giants, including the risks to business and operating models and consumer relationships. Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Google have all made major moves into digital health in recent years, with varying degrees of success.

The gap between the digital ambitions of executives and the ability to execute is typically very large. Managing perceptions of disruptive business risk and guiding executive expectations of appropriate responses has become a daily job for CIOs. CIOs should identify, measure and communicate the gap in their firm’s ability to execute digital initiatives. This ensures expectations are realistic, transparent and achievable.

3. Put digital business and IT platform best practices into place

The deployment of digital technology platforms should be a top investment to close the capability gap. Healthcare providers have now recognised data and analytics platforms as having the highest potential for competitive differentiation. Providers should also turn their attention to customer experience and IoT platforms, both essential for developing customer relationships and providing virtual care.

New platform business models are also important to enable coordinated, collaborative care among an expanding number of partners. Many healthcare providers are focusing on collaboration and orchestration within complex business ecosystems.

For transformational ideas, however, consider investments that enable co-creation of new product and service offerings with ecosystem partners, or that efficiently match producers and consumers, such as the right healthcare professional with the right patient in both face-to-face and virtual care settings.

4. Start a programmatic workforce skills improvement initiative

Currently, only 52% of healthcare firms have a digital dexterity program as part of their digital business strategy, compared with 72% of financial services firms and retailers.

For digital healthcare transformation, it is critical to make digital dexterity a top priority. To do this, the current workforce needs to be trained and motivated to gain the necessary skills for digital business.

To boost workforce skills, establish programs to help staff exploit existing and emerging technologies for better business outcomes. Invest in improvements for all three digital dexterity components — technology, engagement and diversity.

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Jun 18, 2021

Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool 

2 min
Skin Analytics uses AI to detect skin cancer and will be deployed across the NHS to ease patient backlogs

An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system. 

NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion. 

Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making. 

In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog. 

Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening. 

DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.

Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.

Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges. 

"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”

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