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5 keys to developing a digital strategy
Posted by The HCI Group
on October 16, 2020 at 10:32 AM

Despite the lack of digital strategies across the country and the confusion as to which teams within a healthcare organization should be responsible to produce it, there is one constant that we can agree on: You need a digital strategy. Edward Marx recently spoke on the EXPO.health experience series to outline the 5 keys to developing an effective digital strategy. He provided a playbook with which organizations can customize and adapt to build their own strategies.

Copy of Healthcare Digital Transformation_ Technology is Not Enough. (2)

Key One: Create Vision

It is really important to start with a vision for your strategy and your company. What is the vision for digital transformation? Is it about the patients? Is it about the community? Is it about the hospital? Is it about all of these things? You have to define it. There is no right or wrong answer, but it needs to make sense for your organization and its goals. Vision is really a bold statement about where you want to be, not where you are today. Make sure that it fits on to one slide so that it is simple and easily digested.

An example vision statement to help you could be Cleveland Clinic’s: “Double the number of lives touched.” Pretty simple, yet very powerful. How do you achieve that? Well, you have to have a digital strategy to enable it. Another example could be bold statements that lead to the fulfilment of the vision, such as “50% of our outpatient visits will be virtual”. In order to compel others to join and follow you, you have to have that aspirational and bold vision. The biggest barrier that leaders face is culture. Starting with a vision can get people on board and excited about these changes, as opposed to negative or hesitant to adopt it.

Think of this as an agile methodology that is never fixed. If you need to re-evaluate this step, go back and adjust it. You only have a limited time period to get this strategy in place and you need it to be effective.


Key Two: Establish team of teams

You cannot do this alone. Sometimes people are great visionaries and they try to execute on their own – and they fail. Vision alone isn’t going to get you there. You must have the whole strategy and to get there you have to develop a team, but it’s important that you choose the right people. Include some of the people that you would normally have on your teams, but just like your vision, be bold with some of your choices for those you have on this team.

Create a team of no more than 10 people, and include the nay-sayers, the informal leaders and it is also important to invite your CFO into your digital strategy development. You need the buy-in from finance from the get-go. If you wait until after you’ve developed your strategy and they are not engaged, you will have a hard time executing your strategy without financial support.

Finally, include a patient on your team to provide the patient perspective. Some might think they know the patient perspective, because we are all patients and we all have family. This is not the case. When you are in healthcare it is not the same experience for you, as you know more and know the people. Bring in a patient to provide a whole new way of thinking and better input into your strategy.


Key Three: Collect multiple inputs

  • Research the state of digitization in healthcare and beyond.
  • Leverage experience of peer group health systems and beyond.
  • Engage think-tanks, best practices and benchmarks.
  • Collaborate with partners for tools and platforms.
  • Survey internal stakeholders for current initiatives and digital ideas
  • Ideate on internal tools, plans and experiences.


Key Four: Organizational alignment & buy-in

You’ve mastered the first three steps, but now you need to make sure that you have alignment whether political or cultural. Be assertive, find the nay-sayers, listen to patients, make sure your strategy aligns with the overall organizational strategy and vision.


Key Five: Resource for the duration

This is why you have the CFO on your primary committee. After developing this strategy and putting in all that effort, you want to make sure that it is resourced. The worst thing that can happen is to go through all those steps and engagement to find out that you don’t have the resources to produce the strategy. Make sure that the commitment to resource is within the strategy, so that when the strategy is approved so are the resources.


Tips for Execution

  • Invest in robust governance and processes for identifying and managing technology vendors and maximizing the value of technology investments
  • Gain cross-functional buy-in and alignment for early and sustained success with implementing digital roadmaps
  • Consider setting up a digital transformation office that is removed from day to day operational responsibility and can drive enterprise-wide collaboration
  • Continue to revisit the enterprise roadmap, involve stakeholders early and often, and learn best practices from peers in the industry
  • Digital transformation success is predicated on new financial thinking and analysis
  • You will be challenged to significantly reduce costs while managing increased investment in digital capabilities


Want more information on how to develop your own digital transformation strategy?