Addressing Healthcare’s Unique Challenges

In the last TEQ issue, I was interviewed on how to balance speed and strength when driving digital deliverables. This month, I wanted to go into deeper details around how the healthcare industry can do a better job at digital transformation.

My team works with clients across industries to transform their businesses with digital technologies and processes. However, healthcare has its own unique challenges. The nature of health data and patient safety, along with compliance and regulation constraints, have contributed to healthcare’s struggles with responding to consumer demand, similar to other industries – like retail and banking – have done.

But, there is a way to leverage legacy systems, continue to meet requirements, and become nimble and consumer-centric through digital interactions and experiences.

We refer to it as a form of bimodal thinking (strength and speed) that lets you transform within constraints and focuses your energies where it makes sense to deliver new digital experiences quickly while moving more methodically on back-end systems with regulation in mind.

Maybe an example will help illustrate the value of a bimodal approach:

Healthcare Example #1:

A healthcare payer knew that their member onboarding program was too complicated and laborious but they weren’t sure how to change the front-end experience in light of their back-end systems.

We supported the client in a bimodal approach that enabled total transformation of the program without throwing out the legacy systems. Because of this, they were able to incorporate automation while re-inventing the member interface to be smooth and simple.

The key to achieving strength and speed in this case was that they didn’t rewrite their claims processing software, but exposed the parts that could be more consumable for front-end goals and utilize automation on top of a solid foundation.

Because of this hybrid approach, the healthcare payer was able to implement quickly by starting with teams and technology that they already had, build the front-end that they desperately needed while refining the back-end over time.

The governance of this system focused on a concrete set of rules but not by strict policies, thereby maintaining compliance and meeting the desires of new customers.

Bimodal: Changing How We Think about Digital Development

Within a bimodal mindset, you focus first on the capabilities and user experiences that you want to deliver. You create the desired future state that meets the needs of your consumers by delivering the value they want.

The beauty of this approach is that you don’t let old systems hold you back. You can modernize the architecture of legacy systems by applying the APIs on top. By having a loose coupling of “front-end” and “back-end,” you can keep a focus on both and achieve results faster.

That brings me to another real-world example.

Healthcare Example #2:

This healthcare client had a gold mine of patient population and provider data that could inform their sales team and make helping employers find and choose the best level of and access to care possible.

They had battle-tested back-end systems as well as the actuarial models to run the analytics. But what they didn’t have was a plan for leveraging their strong systems into powerful, user-centric analytic tools that could be packaged in a way that brought visualizations and insights to the fore.

The important aspect was to make that data available to new digital technologies, including GIS visualizations and mobile applications. After helping the client expose that information on a modular framework, the data could be interacted with through real-time manipulation and custom scenarios could be generated on the fly, helping sales teams more effectively show clients custom product mixes and their impact to the bottom line.

This was the ultimate bimodal development project that worked and created hooks to dynamic features that can be deployed quickly and used seamlessly right in front of the customer.

The Key to Bimodal Success

Simply put…the key is proper governance. Especially within healthcare, digital technologies must be secure and stable enough to meet requirements and flexible enough to meet market and competitive demands.

Here, it’s important to focus on the important policies, like security, regulatory, software interface standards, and automate as much as possible.

Focus on “edge cases” where governance is essential and create a rigorous set of rules that allows for a solid back-end and front-end that you can iterate more quickly.

The mantra is this:

“Only update what you need, when you need it, and do it upon a flexible governance structure.”

In the end, it’s not about legacy following old delivery models while new technology is running Agile. It’s about conforming the legacy systems to become more agile while not slowing down innovation.

If you want to consider a bimodal approach to gain strength plus speed, ask yourself these questions or reach out to me with your questions. I’m glad to discuss the value of bimodal further.

  • How regulated is my industry or segment of an industry?
  • How much of my business is impacted by “external forces” regulations, security exposure, etc.
  • How much of my architecture is “legacy”? Does it cost me more to maintain or to replace it?
  • Where do I have opportunities for innovation while meeting my industry’s regulatory and other external forces and requirements?
  • What innovations to the consumer experience do we think is too risky or advanced for our industry?

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