Virtually every industry has been impacted by technological advancements in recent years—but, for some, the demand for technology modernization has surged tremendously in a short duration. The healthcare sector falls into this category. While, at one point, hospitals, health networks, and pharmaceutical companies had little need for patient-focused digital experiences, that all changed, thanks largely to the pandemic.
Suddenly, doctors had to offer virtual care; hospitals needed to find a way to more effectively share patient data while abiding by privacy regulations, and pharmaceutical companies saw increased patient requests for online medical information.
For many, addressing these needs has been incredibly difficult—thanks, largely, to the decades-old legacy technology that simply isn’t designed for the 21st century. While modernizing these tech stacks is essential, the task can, understandably, feel quite daunting.
To alleviate some of the stress of such an undertaking–and mitigate many of the risks–health organizations should take an incremental approach to technology modernization, rather than replacing a tech stack in one fell swoop. As you do so, consider these three key questions:
How can we optimize our organizational structure to aid a seamless technology transition?
Before you launch your technology modernization journey, it’s important to look closely at your existing operational structure—and identify any overlapping technology needs across markets. The purpose of this exercise is to identify opportunities to increase alignment between business units, departments, or regions wherever possible–so as to allow for agile decision efficacy and efficiency without duplicating technology efforts.
The best way to achieve this is by building a tailored Shared Services Model, which will act as the foundation of your technology modernization efforts. While shared service models aren’t new to global organizations—and are often common in areas like Human Resources, IT Support, or accounting—they’ve proven to be beneficial in technology modernization, particularly when organizations centralize things like tech strategy, platform development, maintenance, and governance.
When executed strategically, this model should offer a degree of centralization—allowing for a more consistent digital experience without disrupting the overall organizational structure.
Creating a Consistent Digital Experience
When you combine a decentralized organizational structure with legacy technology, consistency in design and experience doesn’t receive the consideration and attention it needs. This makes it difficult to meet global regulations and industry standards—and often fails to fulfill the needs of organizational stakeholders. Patients will have different experiences, depending on the product they’re looking for or the region they’re living in—and design teams will need to spend a significant time creating, maintaining, and updating designs to align with the needs of the local user. Achieving this within the parameters of an organization’s brand guidelines invariably competes with customer needs and takes a back seat.
Adopting a Global Design System is one way to overcome these challenges. Through this centralized system, organizations can essentially transform an organization’s brand guidelines into atomical digital components—which act as “building blocks” that decentralized teams can use to build digital experiences that both meet the needs of local users and the organization’s brand. This ultimately translates into a more consistent and intuitive user experience, increased agility (and faster time-to-market), and improved governance.
The best part of this type of system is that organizations can roll it out slowly—one region or product at a time—making it less jarring on the organization as a whole. Additionally, because it’s so flexible, once a GDS is in place it can seamlessly evolve in pace with organizational needs and technology advancements.
Getting the Organization on Board
This question is frequently overlooked when organizations set out to modernize their tech stacks. All too often, teams and organizational leaders become focused on everything that goes into implementing new technology—and the people who will be using the technology become their second priority.
This can be detrimental down the road, as you run the risk of investing in technology that your people simply don’t want to use because: they weren’t prepared for the associated learning curve, they don’t feel the technology resolves any of their challenges, or, they had a bad experience with organizational change in the past and are hesitant to embrace it again.
Understanding this, it’s important to have a robust change management strategy in place before the launch of any technology modernization efforts. This plan should outline solutions to potential barriers—and proactively address potential objections, prioritize continuous improvement, provide appropriate training and roll out changes gradually, so employees have a chance to adjust.
Modernizing legacy tech is never easy. That said, by taking an incremental approach—and focusing efforts on modernizing the service model, design systems, and organizational mindsets—healthcare organizations can make the transition go substantially smoother. Learn more about how to implement an incremental technology transformation—and explore real-life examples of companies who are implementing some of these measures—in our recent white paper Modernizing Technology in Healthcare.
The author, John F. Mozayani, is Vice President of Technology at Appnovation.