Digital Transformation in Healthcare: Three Disruptions Reshaping the Landscape

August 9, 2021 Sheila Curr

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored how incredibly hard disruption can be. The last two years have brought circumstances and hardships that were previously inconceivable. But one silver lining in contending with these trying times has been the growing recognition that disruption creates opportunity for change.  

That is a key point underscored by Charlene Li in Conduent’s recent webinar, “Hyper Disruption in Healthcare.” Li is a digital transformation and disruption expert and author of the New York Times best-selling book, Groundswell. We were pleased to welcome her and fellow leaders from Conduent and Humana to share their insights about the disruptions driving the healthcare industry and how shifts during the pandemic have driven lasting change.

This article builds on some of the insights Li and our panel shared during the webinar. 

Lessons learned  

Before the pandemic, countless organizations who previously thought it would take years or be too complicated or simply infeasible to transition their employees to work-from-home — ended up being able to quickly mobilize their workforce and convert to remote operations within days.  

The scale at which this happened for organizations all over the globe is remarkable. It spotlights something very important about beliefs and mindsets, organizationally and individually.  Believing something will be too hard, too complicated, or take too long, we tend to delay action on it. When we’re put in a situation where we have to act — due to circumstances and necessity — we find out that change is not only possible, it can happen very quickly if we decide that it must and do what it takes to make it happen. 

We used to think of disruption as going through something we don’t want to, but now, people and organizations are looking to breed disruptions to generate change

Disruption is increasingly being viewed through a strategic lens, where forward-thinkers see the benefits of intentional, strategic disruption to drive positive change.  

In healthcare, three disruptions are reshaping the landscape: 

1) New expectations from patients and members 

We’re all living in a digitally driven world where availability of information, products and services in other industries (e.g., entertainment, banking, online retail, even groceries) is at their fingertips — through a computer, their mobile device or their virtual assistant (e.g., Siri, Google, Alexa). We expect the same from healthcare providers and insurers. 

As patients and members, we want easy, secure access to personalized information — whenever and however we choose to get it. We expect proactiveness around personalization because we get it in almost every other aspect of our lives where the customer experience of the future is already happening. 

Digital transformation provides the solution for healthcare providers and payers to meet these modern expectations, regardless of interactive channel, facilitated by advances like AI and machine learning. 

A great way for healthcare entities to work through this is to create an empathy map. The idea is to describe your future customer, your future patient. Put that person in the middle and describe four things about them. What do they say? What do they do? What do they think and how do they feel? Then, describe the best case for after they’ve interacted with you and what that would look like. What would they say differently, do differently, think and feel differently after their experience with you?  

2) Digitization 

  • 55% of healthcare providers have started digitizing operations at scale.
  • 43% of healthcare digital transformation initiatives modernize IT infrastructure to increase agility.

In today’s world, to the extent you are not digital or are mired in legacy technology, you are behind. Healthcare and pharmaceutical industries currently lag in implementing digital transformation. And though most are focused on improving their IT infrastructure, many are missing a broader perspective.  

Digital transformation is about more than modifying and upgrading technology. It’s about evolving the mindset of people, policies and procedures to be able to meet and connect with patients and members in a seamless way. 

To achieve this, we hear talk about “tearing down departmental silos,” but it’s not about tearing down silos — departments have very specific roles. It’s about creating windows between different departments so customers (patients, members) and their information can flow seamlessly through them. 

When disparate departments can seamlessly connect and interact, it paves the way for seamless patient experiences. 

For example, more and more payers are assessing their core administration processing system to hone in on new ways to drive seamlessness across your operations. 

3) Culture 

Going forward, organizations’ ability to drive the biggest disruptions will stem from their motivation to understand and change their culture. That means establishing a mindset for disruptive change.  

Three common attributes of disruptive organizations: 

  • Openness/information sharing. There's openness in decisions, how they're being made and a welcoming of openness, so it expands across the organization. Transparency equates with accountability, which in turn builds trust. This fosters healthy dialogue and opens up conversations that perhaps previously wouldn’t have happened. 
  • Employees have the ability to take ownership. If they are encouraged to make determinative decisions within certain parameters, they can more fully respond to patient needs and take ownership to resolve issues.  
  • A bias toward action. This is the ability to act, even if you don’t have perfect preparedness or information. Waiting to be perfectly prepared gets in the way of trying something new, even though the new solution, service or offering may be better for members and patients. A bias for action can help you make progress more quickly — understanding that action will ultimately take you forward if you learn from mistakes or missteps along the way. 

Important questions for organizations and their workforce: 

  • What beliefs are holding us back? 
  • How can we replace them with new beliefs that will move us forward to be more disruptive? 

Being a strategic disruptor requires moving out of comfort zones. As Li says, “When you’re at the edge of your comfort zone, pursuing the biggest disruptions, that’s where the magic will happen.” 

Learn more about how Conduent helps drive digital transformation in healthcare by visiting our healthcare provider solutions and healthcare payer solutions pages. 

About the Author

Sheila Curr

As the Global Head of Commercial Healthcare Clients, Sheila Curr is responsible for client management and growth across our Payer, Provider, and Pharma/Life Sciences clients. Sheila is a seasoned and strategic healthcare executive with a strong track record of success driving sales, growth, and partnerships in the healthcare space. Her areas of expertise include healthcare, technology, OEM, and retail with an emphasis on building business solutions based on clients’ requirements while delivering consistent revenue and ROI. Sheila joined Conduent from TTEC, where she was the Global Vice President of Healthcare, growing that business by 58% in one year and extending market reach for the company.

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