The 'New Normal' in Digital Health - Part 1

The 'New Normal' in Digital Health - Part 1

The digital wave is changing our world and amplifying in force. At every turn we see examples of the power of its impact, and although it has become somewhat of a cliché, the reality just cannot be ignored. Uber, Amazon, AirBnB, Apple, Facebook, Netflix and Google are lauded as the poster children of digital disruption. The power of this change and disruption still amazes me, especially when I think about the impact digital has had on private taxi companies, low-cost hoteliers, retailers, telephony providers and media organisations.

I’ve talked about the impact of this on companies like Blockbuster before. Smart phones and cloud delivered applications combined with increasingly better network connectivity are intensifying this effect. With the promise of the Internet of Things, analytics, automation and artificial intelligence in sight; indeed it is fairly easy to now imagine scenarios such as speaking through a watch to book a driverless taxi that knows exactly where you are, where you’re going and how long it will take.

These wonderful applications that have transformed our own personal lives have proliferated to meet demand, without the cultural resistance of institutionally forced adoption. A relentless focus on customer experience, the cost-effective advantages against preceding analogue tools, and the constant innovation through the generation of new ideas, business models, markets and indeed new economies has resulted in a shift we are only too happy to be a part of. In many ways we don’t care that Netflix, Apple and Uber are really well orchestrated companies, but this tight alignment is certainly by no chance. Technology is integrated into the business from the foundations up.

The opportunities are vast for business leaders and CEOs to shape the digital transformation changing our world. One particular industry that we all care about greatly, and has tremendous opportunity to embrace the ‘Power of Digital’ is healthcare. Digital Hospitals promise new levels of efficiency, quality and integration delivering higher staff satisfaction and morale, improved standards of patient care throughout the community and ultimately, a better patient experience.

The manual tools of yesterday (paper notes, bleeps, letters and fixed telephones) and legacy IT systems (slow static PCs, clunky software, unused and over-priced patient entertainments systems – I could go on), are on the cusp of finally being thrown out of favour of what can surely only be seen as remarkable advancement. Instant access to information, pervasive high quality staff and patient WiFi, rich collaboration tools including video and messaging, cloud-based applications, EPRs, patient portals and tablet based entertainment systems are all set to provide a better, safer, more cost effective, integrated and user-friendly UK healthcare economy.

Expectation has made its entrance within the hospital setting over the last few years in the form of consumerisation, and with it has been a pronounced shift from IT-driven technology to user-driven services and outcomes. There is something significantly less threatening about cultural change when we are granted the freedom of choosing the technology service or solution rather than having it thrust upon us. The choice is really quite simple in our personal lives; queue for minutes in the supermarket, or use the self-service checkouts in seconds. Make a phone call or visit to do your banking, or access your accounts instantly through an app. I don’t know about you, but life is too short already not to embrace this type of improvement. When was the last time you went to a DVD store?

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing with you some of my experiences and opinion working as a CTO to help healthcare leaders succeed in the UK. A recent conversation with our client Alison Davies, CIO at The Francis Crick Institute prompted my thoughts around a term she used as ‘the new normal’. So in my forthcoming posts I’ll be considering just that – five areas that harness the power of digital technology and are a significant improvement on the status quo to provide this new normal. Each area can deliver real tangible improvements to the quality of patient care and safety, provide efficiencies, savings and new revenues for Trusts looking to attract and retain staff and deliver a better patient experience.

I’ll be sharing my next post here shortly. In the meantime, if there’s something you’d like to hear more about or a question you’d like answering, I’d love to hear your thoughts over on Twitter or LinkedIn – #PowerOfDigital