Implementing Digital Health Solutions: The Struggle is Real
In the U.S. healthcare ecosystem, digital solutions pose unique challenges to the implementation of major change efforts. However, a McKinsey Global Survey suggests the capabilities that support better outcomes remain as critical as ever, a new survey shows. Across all types of transformations, successful implementations remain unspecific, with few survey respondents responding that their organizations’ change efforts have both improved performance and sustained those improvements. More than half of the respondents reported that their organizations’ most recent major transformations involved the implementation of digital solutions. Over two-thirds of all respondents agree that implementation capabilities are more important to the outcomes of major change efforts than they were three years ago.
During the setup of a digital transformation, the results suggest that communicating clearly and establishing priorities are the most important practices for the successful management of that effort (Exhibit 1). Those in charge of leading organizational change must understand and apply the knowledge of behavioral psychology and the lessons from brain science to manage organizational change successfully.
Annual funding of digital health companies surpassed $5B for the first time ever in 2017. According to a Rock Health annual report, 2017 Year End Funding Report: The end of the beginning of digital health, investors in the digital health space were more comfortable, confident, and willing to make larger investments in digital health companies. 2017 saw the greatest amount of funding being poured into digital health to date, with consumer health information the most funded value proposition. Since 2015, companies focused on improving Electronic Health Record (EHR) functionality and/or enhancing the clinical workflow have been the most likely to be acquired.
Referring back to the McKinsey Global Survey, success is more than four times likelier when the organization focuses on two other practices: ensuring meaningful change in how the organization operates after the solution is implemented and allowing employees across the organization to improve and refine the new solution continually. Emerging technology is giving providers and payers more of this data to analyze, which could lead to gains ineffectiveness. Survey respondents expressed a few steps leaders can take to improve the implementation of major change efforts—and digital change efforts in particular:
- Stay engaged and be aware of blind spots. A lack of leadership engagement can put the success of any major change effort at risk.
- Lead with agility. It’s critical that employees have targeted actions to take, but leaders need to assess progress more effectively and to make adjustments as needed.
- Allocate time to finding the right skills. Leaders should be clear about their objectives and communicate early and often with employees to confirm that people focus on the right activities and that their work adds value to the broader transformation.