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How To Build Capabilities For A Robust Healthcare Digital Transformation

How To Build Capabilities For A Robust Healthcare Digital Transformation

Today, digital excellence is no longer an option. It's the only viable path to operational efficiency, agility, and brand prominence. According to IDG, 89% of businesses have adopted or plan to adopt a digital-first strategy. 

BCG study shows that innovative healthcare organizations grow 2.3 times faster than their risk-averse peers. The success of these institutions rests on strategic digitally-led initiatives facilitated by critical organizational capabilities.

Essentially, organizations that succeed in digital transformation focus on closing capability gaps that inhibit their competitive advantage.

The Barriers To Capability-Building In Digital Transformation

Organizational capability-building lies at the center of digital transformation. 

study involving 528 digital transformation leaders and strategists found that important challenges remain in the path to digital disruption:

  • Only 40% of organizations have formalized, cross-functional digital transformation steering committees.
  • The top drivers of digital transformation are increasing sophistication in consumer preferences (55%), growth opportunities in emerging markets (53%), and new regulatory requirements (42%).
  • However, only a mere 22% have content strategies that address consumer concerns at various touchpoints of the healthcare journey.
  • Simultaneously, only 20% are studying the ramifications of the mobile customer journey.

Intrinsically, budget considerations and resistive behaviors remain the greatest barriers to digital transformation:

  • A whopping 62% cite the lack of budget allocations for digital transformation as a key challenge.
  • Meanwhile, resistance to collaborations between the data, marketing, and technology teams often thwart progress. One of the most significant barriers to a seamless transition is employee resistance to change (54%) and getting buy-in from every department (53%).

The Right Roadmap For Digital Transformation

According to McKinsey, most transformations fall far short of expectations.

However, when the right capabilities are in place, success rates for transformation triple. In that light, the right roadmap for success is critical.

An operational roadmap lays the foundation for a successful transition. It involves:

  • A current state assessment that includes interviews (competency and strengths-based) and data collection from disparate systems within an organization
  • Implementation of a functional capabilities gap analysis
  • Creation of a unified vision for digital success
  • Adoption of a continuous learning environment, skill-building programs, and intra-organizational collaboration

Healthcare organisations have been slower to implement digital transformation, and many look outside of the industry for inspiration. Companies that have undergone successful digital transitions by building the capabilities of their teams include Nissan and the Coats Group. Nissan, in particular, focused on boosting productivity and efficiency by enabling a mobile-capable workforce. Meanwhile, the Coats Group embraced cloud computing, increasing employee collaboration and reducing the burdens of an in-house IT staff overnight.

The Key Pillars Of Digital Transformation Capabilities

Although the sequencing of priorities depend on what organizations identify as the most valuable levers of change, priority pillars for transformation generally involve:

Data Capture

Data capture and analysis as a means of building data literacy. Predicated on the value-based healthcare model, organizations are aggregating data sets from multiple healthcare stakeholders to derive key insights. Data and analytics platforms provide more granular data about disease exacerbations, so physicians can pinpoint more precise treatment pathways for patients. An increase in data-based decision making promotes successful digital transformation.

Digital Talent

Digital talent. Businesses that adopt initiatives to bridge the divide between legacy and digital systems report greater success. For example, companies that identify the requisite skills needed to deliver crucial digital products and services are twice as likely to report greater transformational success than companies who don't.


Content and digital marketing. Today, websites constitute the hub of all healthcare marketing activities. Pivotal content is combined with data intelligence to engage consumers on digital channels. The right digital capabilities are a key means of increasing patient and consumer engagement and creating optimal customer experiences. Read our article, Internal Content Planning and Creation in Healthcare Marketing, for more info.


Intelligent process automation. Many organizations are leveraging CPA (cognitive process automation) and RPA (robotic process automation) to complete extensive tasks that previously required manual intervention. The time and cost savings allow healthcare professionals to focus on the customer experience (CX).

Success Metrics That Facilitate Digital Transformation

In any transformation effort, important stakeholders must be able to rely on key metrics to gauge the viability of digital initiatives. As such, success metrics (KPIs) need to be built into management objectives and functions. Ensuring that digital transformation performance objectives are linked to departments and teams across the entire organization will drive the behavioural changes needed for successful transformation.

Metrics that reveal the quality of care delivered to patients may include staff-to-patient ratios, average claims processing rates, patient wait times, and patient satisfaction rates.

Other success metrics can be growth, revenue, and market share rates. In particular, revenues based on the new digital framework should be measured against that from legacy systems to assess the success of digital initiatives. There are also relevant metrics in digital marketing, ranging from online clicks and completed views to engagement scores and conversion.

Key Engines Of Capability Building

In terms of building capabilities to facilitate digital transformation, companies can benefit from a balance of formal training and enablement sessions led by internal transformation teams or external partners. According to McKinsey, companies that offer leadership development programs focused on cross-functional team success are twice as likely to succeed in digital transformation. Additionally, companies that offer employee multi-session learning programs are 1.6 times more likely to report higher success rates.

Attention should also be focused on establishing an automation architecture to facilitate operational efficiency. To date, 75% of top healthcare CIOs have already implemented plan-build-run infrastructure models to drive costs reductions and improved patient-care outcomes (according to Gartner). 

In any given organization, human barriers are the greatest impediment to change. People doubt the necessity for change and some even adopt cynical attitudes regarding the possibilities of success. Why? This cognitive and behavioral resistance often originates from our intrinsic fear of uncertainty. Leaders must clearly communicate the rationale for change, empower their teams, and be able to mobilize the right solutions to facilitate it.

How important is adaptive leadership in bringing about change? Studies by MIT and Capgemini Consulting cite the lack of top-level support as the main reason change is often torpedoed in organizations. 

The Time To Ride The Digital Wave Is Now

Despite the challenges, there's good news. The value proposition digital transformation offers to healthcare is nothing short of phenomenal.

According to Yoky Matsuoka, Google Health Vice President, change is imminent and the healthcare industry can reap positive benefits from transformation. If your organization is considering digital innovation, Matsuoka provides food for thought: due to the massive size of the healthcare industry, change may proceed at the pace of a marathon, rather than a sprint.

Bottom line? There's still time to act.

For more suggestions, see our recent post on the Top 5 Digital Transformation Challenges in Today’s Healthcare or subscribe to our newsletter below, to receive more articles like this directly in your inbox.

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