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Digital transformation: lessons from our health and social care experience

By Crispin Apold and Matthew Rowe

Digital transformation is not merely an option for healthcare companies: it is a necessity. Societies across the world are grappling with mounting health challenges, from ageing populations and staffing shortages, to patient demand for access to medical records and cutting-edge treatments. In the face of such pressures, healthcare providers must embrace digital transformation as an essential strategy, leveraging technology to streamline processes, enhance data accessibility and drive innovation.

We have a proven track record of successfully implementing digital transformation projects across our healthcare portfolio, and have seen first-hand the tangible benefits they bring. Here are some of the best lessons we’ve learnt.

Patience and planning

Like all good building projects, measure twice and cut once. One of the most significant lessons from our experience is the value of patience and thorough planning. A considered plan, carefully laid out before you start, can save days, if not weeks, later in the process. Understanding the very specific needs of your business - and the people you care for - and really investing time to identify pinch points along the journey will help mitigate against potential challenges.

Crafting a dynamic roadmap

A key element of planning is the creation of a project roadmap. Digital transformation is complex, made up of various projects and tasks each differing in scale and complexity. Developing a flexible transformation roadmap is key, allowing for regular reassessments and tweaks if needed. Make sure your roadmap builds in points to pause, discuss and reflect. Opportunities for amendments and rethinks are vital.

The courage to change course

Digital transformation is not a linear path and sometimes tweaks are not enough. At times it requires the courage to change direction entirely. The right decisions are not always the easiest, and don’t be afraid to stop working on a solution if it no longer fits your needs. Shoehorning business needs into ill-fitting solutions will lead to further pain in future and won’t lead to the best outcomes for patients or service users.

The art of balancing dependencies

In a landscape where multiple projects are interlinked, managing dependencies becomes almost an art form. It involves meticulously ensuring that decisions or changes in one project don’t derail others. It requires the management of competing interests. At the outset assign priorities to each workstream - this allows you to balance resources and maintain the coherence of the overall transformation, which is particularly important as the projects become bigger and more.

Inclusive communication

An often-underestimated aspect of digital transformation is the human element. Ensuring everyone across the organisation - and not just the Board and management team - is informed and engaged is an essential ingredient for any successful project, particularly in healthcare. Engaging with subject-matter experts, service staff and explaining the root goal of the transformation all help to ease the transition for all. Active communication ensures staff of all seniorities understand the transformation and can actively support the change that new technology brings.

Digital transformation is never a simple task, and the above points are just a flavour of some of the challenges involved. Success comes through a blend of strategic planning, adaptive leadership, careful project management and communication. As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, embracing change becomes not just a necessity, but a continuous journey towards growth and innovation.

To find out more about our work supporting health and social care providers on their tech-enablement journey, feel free to contact Crispin Apold.