Navigate Disruption

Monthly Podcast Series Helping Business Leaders Manage Their Digital Transformation Journey

October 2019

01: A Roadmap for Reimagining Healthcare Through Digital Innovation

As disruption upends the traditional service delivery model, what types of delivery model, talent management strategies and advanced technologies do healthcare providers need to thrive?

In this episode of the Navigate Disruption podcast, Eric Krell talks to Infosys Consulting Associate Partner Ellen VanBuskirk about the new delivery models, technologies, skills and organizational cultures that healthcare companies are embracing in the face of global disruption. Ellen also discusses how the industry’s digital leaders are improving efficiency and enhancing the patient experience by deploying RPA, machine learning and other advanced technologies.

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Narrator
Welcome to Navigate Disruption, an Infosys Consulting podcast that shares insights on digital innovation and market disruption. In each episode we cover trending topics that help business leaders navigate their transformation journey in an age of constant change.

Eric Krell
Hi, it’s Eric Krell. On today’s episode we talk to Ellen VanBuskirk, associate partner with Infosys Consulting. A highly accomplished senior-level leader in the health care industry, Ellen owns a 30-plus-year track record of delivering strategic consulting to payers, providers, and life science client companies.

Ellen began her career in clinical delivery, an experience that lets her share some hard-earned provider and payer expertise with all of her clients. Over the course of her impressive career, Ellen’s worked with clients in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and North America. She regularly presents on industry topics. Ellen was keynote speaker at the Chinese Ministry of Health conference on healthcare.

Ellen is helping clients design strategic roadmaps for their digital journeys, and then helping them execute those comprehensive plans. Today, Ellen discusses the scope of these digital journeys and then focuses on how providers, in particular, are developing more patient-centric services, investing in new enabling technologies, and contending with some common roadblocks.

Hello, Ellen. Thanks for sharing your time to talk about healthcare industry trends today.

Ellen VanBuskirk
Hi, Eric. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to do that.

Eric Krell
The healthcare industry has been undergoing transformation for some time now. Healthcare providers, in particular, are contending with significant disruptions. Ellen, help me understand where healthcare providers are coming from by highlighting the traditional delivery model that’s being upended.

Ellen VanBuskirk
Sure. Healthcare has been reliant on a face-to-face interaction and volume fee for service, a highly complicated regulatory environment, a siloed business model, and much of the new technology that has been implemented has not fully achieved the ROI that was expected. We have an industry that attempted to reimagine healthcare by creating more regulations and a variation on the fee-for-volume service reimbursement models. We have been trying to bend the cost curve.

We are now going through a disruption in the face-to-face interaction delivery model on a global level. We see this happening not only in the U.S., but around the globe. We see the opportunity for innovation, and some of the early stages of these advancements are already underway. Clinical and operational interoperability — the lack of it — is something that is a global problem as well.

Eric Krell
Now I’ve heard you and your colleagues refer to the evolution healthcare companies are undertaking as the digital journey. Can you briefly describe the scope of this journey?

Ellen VanBuskirk
A digital journey is not fine-tuning or streamlining the operations of an existing business model. The journey will magnify the existing ethos of the current health system and all the challenges that are there. As we move down the path of the digital journey, it will require new roles, smarter skills, and new relationships — especially as we move out of the brick-and-mortar and away from [the traditional] physician’s office.

We see the balance of influence will change from payers to providers, and it will bring in new players from outside of healthcare. The cultural impact will be palpable in terms of creating the need to build a culture which will support the digital business.

Eric Krell
So tell me what’s a common obstacle on this journey?

Ellen VanBuskirk
We see that the health system implementing digital solutions without creating a digital business vision or roadmap, and this approach can create additional disruption … Actors across the ecosystem need to identify and establish trusted partnerships with like-minded companies to become innovators on the digital journey.

The reimagined, emerging delivery model will create an additional challenge given that the workforce is unskilled in digital experience. Thus, the need to rapidly upskill the existing workforce along the value chain will become very important.

Eric Krell
Besides having that digital roadmap, what’s one more challenge companies tend to encounter on their digital journey?

Ellen VanBuskirk
A digital skilled workforce will be a differentiator. Having the right people who are skilled in the new technology will enhance the competitive opportunity. There are several required steps to create a digital workforce: implementing a training program to upskill current workforce; developing a change management strategy that will include an assessment of current roles and responsibility; and developing an enterprise-wide recruitment and hiring plan to address the gaps in skills. According to [Philips] Future Health Index, just 47 percent of healthcare professionals claim they have any knowledge of digital solutions and connective care technology.

So we have a lot of work to do in that area.

Eric Krell
Clearly, the adoption of digital capabilities and advanced technologies represents a major aspect of this transformation. What do you see as some of the most important technologies that healthcare providers are investing in right now?

Ellen VanBuskirk
We see RPA as one of the areas that providers have moved into first. Robotic process automation (RPA) is designed to reduce and eliminate the need for people to perform high-volume, high-value tasks. We see RPA being embraced across the enterprise in areas like emergency medicine, patient access and registration — to eliminate delays in patient care, patient onboarding (or consumer onboarding), and registration and access process.

Medication process is another area [where RPA is being used] to improve existing processes across the value stream…. Healthcare organizations are also meeting consumer expectations through different forms of technology, like block chain to break down data silos and provide seamless integration across care channels.

Eric Krell
Besides RPA, and you mentioned block chain as well, what are one or two other technologies that are attracting interest in right now?

Ellen VanBuskirk
The whole area of virtual healthcare is seeing a rapid increase in the use of different forms of technology — really building that social media-type of delivery model for providers. Skype for healthcare is something that’s enabling virtual visits. We’re also seeing patient-care monitoring through changes in medical device technology.

Eric Krell
I’ve also heard you say that digital transformation is about more than technology. Tell me what else is involved.

Ellen VanBuskirk
Some of the other areas that we see important — probably one of the more important areas — is to get the healthcare professional to embrace digital technology. They need to understand and accept that care can be delivered in a more expedient way with high-quality outcomes through different digital technologies. The healthcare professional and how they embrace the technology is going to be critical for the success. We can provide all different types of new technologies, but if a healthcare professional — who’s DNA is all about taking care of patients — doesn’t see that it translates to improved patient care, it will be difficult to move forward with some of these technologies.

So, delivering the value-add directly to a healthcare professional is going to be important. Hand in hand with digital is going to be cyber security. As we bring in more and different technology, cyber security has become critical important as the health system moves down a digital journey. Health data is lifetime data. Unlike financial data, which has a shorter shelf life, healthcare data has a very long lifecycle. And protecting consumer data has become complex for many reasons, and some of that is due to new technology.

Cyber security is as important as other areas of patient safety.

Eric Krell
Stepping back a little bit, what type of strategic initiatives are providers undertaking to make progress on their transformations to get further along on their digital journeys?

Ellen VanBuskirk
Well, a lot of different partnerships are taking place…The partnerships involving partners from outside of healthcare has helped accelerate some of the areas along the digital journey.

For example, we’ve seen Mayo Clinic just create a 10-year relationship with Google. We know that other non-tech health giants have also waded into [innovative partnerships]. Insurers and providers have tapped ride hailing companies like Lyft and Uber to provide transportation for patients so that they don’t miss appointments. And we see Amazon has just recently unveiled what is called Amazon Care, which involves virtual physician-office visits…

Eric Krell
How about one more example of a strategic imitative that you see companies out there wanting to pursue or starting to implement right now?

Ellen VanBuskirk
I think one of the things that Infosys sees, and is extremely supportive of, is the virtual hospital. Several different large health systems have started down that path. The virtual hospital is really an access center for all the different virtual technologies that health systems are embracing. It’s the hub for virtual office visits, for virtual ICU services, and for virtual emergency room services.

We see that as a very critical component to the digital journey for healthcare.

Eric Krell
You made the point earlier about the need to develop new ways to interact with patients — more consumer-like ways to interact with patients. Tell me a little bit about these patient-centric healthcare services that you’re seeing come online.

Ellen VanBuskirk
Well, there are several… In in the areas of cost management and financial management, there is an increased interest in helping the consumer who has considerable financial burden — helping with both insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. Something like 40 percent of the [U.S.] population have high-deductible plans.

There are also services related to surprise billing. These financial initiatives are deigned to reduce or eliminate surprise billing for the consumer. This is important because so much of the medical debt, and bankruptcies, that we have In the United States stem from surprise charges that consumers encounter as they purchase healthcare.

We also see virtual home health services where the home service caregivers can see more patients and be closer to the patient 24/7…

Eric Krell
What are some of the capabilities that traditional healthcare providers need to improve upon, or in some cases need to implement, to support some of these new delivery modes.

Ellen VanBuskirk
I think one of the most important is to innovate quickly. The industry is moving at a fast pace, and we are embracing digital technology … I think it’s important, as the industry innovates and innovates quickly, to get the right innovation partner. Consumers are ready for healthcare to mirror other parts of their lives in terms of convenience, choice, and the presence of affordable options with predictable pricing. And providers need to invest in ways to bring them closer to those consumer expectations.

Eric Krell
Well Ellen, thank you very much. I really appreciate you sharing your insights on healthcare with me today. I’ve got a parting question for you.

As you look ahead, what do you see as a major challenge that healthcare providers are going to need to address during the next 12 months or so — something that we haven’t discussed yet.

Ellen VanBuskirk
As far as challenges, there are several. Helping our healthcare workers embrace digital technology and virtual care models, understanding and addressing the regulatory changes, identifying new ways to work within an unstable regulatory environment. We have a shrinking workforce and a growing aging population, and medically underserved populations, which has created an alarming number of chronically ill consumers…

Probably the most important challenge in my opinion is the need for improved chronic care management. On a global level, societal determines of health (SDOH) makes up 90 percent of all hospital spend and $1.1 trillion annually on a global level. We need to create interoperable data transactions among consumers, providers and community services. We need AI and analytics for smart analyses so we can provide virtual coaches to help address these issues.

Eric Krell
Well Ellen, thanks again. I really appreciate it. And have a wonderful week.

Ellen VanBuskirk
Thank you, Eric.

Narrator
Thank you for listening to the Navigate Disruption podcast. To find out more about how Infosys Consulting is helping some of the world’s most recognizable brands transform and innovate, visit us at Infosysconsultinginsight.com, or follow us on LinkedIn.

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