4 Components for Long-Term Transformation

By Scott Cullen, MD, Executive VP of Strategic Innovation and Chief Clinical Officer, AVIA
Twitter: @HealthAVIA

Health systems are facing new and rapidly evolving challenges and leaders are being pushed to innovate at the same pace as a result. Meeting the immediate needs of the system may seem paramount, but healthcare leaders must take a long-term, strategic approach to transformation to reap the full benefits.

While digital is often the key enabler, technology alone is not a solution. Leaders need to create and evangelize a future-state vision, make and share an executable roadmap, gain stakeholder alignment and get airtight on change management practices, and narrow in on the metrics that matter – and measure them.

Here are the four key components to driving long-term digital transformation that will support your organization’s goals and deliver ROI not just over the course of weeks and months, but years and even decades down the road.

1. Develop Your Future-State Vision

Your future-state vision is the heart, soul, and brain of digital transformation. It means looking beyond tactical considerations like specific opportunities and use cases, and towards your organization’s big-picture aspirations and critical problems. Leveraging your organizational strategy to prioritize initiatives that directly support existing goals will help avoid spreading resources too thin or extending deadlines. Defining your future-state vision also means taking into consideration where (in terms of markets) and how (in terms of which customers) your strategy will come into play, and which digital portfolios, delivery channels, and business models will drive that change.

Most importantly, your future-state vision must outline the strategic gap between your current state and where you need to be. This is also a critical time for organizational alignment: engaging key stakeholders—including clinicians, administrators, IT experts, and patients—will make the difference in whether your strategy really reflects the needs and goals of the larger organization.

Without a future-state vision, your transformation can’t hit the mark—in fact, it won’t even have a mark to hit—so getting it right is of paramount importance.

2. Create an Executable Roadmap

Long-term transformation is complex and taxing, placing significant demands on stakeholders, clinical and administrative teams, digital capabilities, and partnerships. Creating an executable roadmap takes your future-state vision and synthesizes it to the requirements and needs that must be in place for it to succeed. That can mean staffing requirements and specific digital capabilities, as well as individual skill sets, partnerships, and approaches that will be essential to success.

It also means returning to your list of prospective digital initiatives and identifying clear priority areas that will guide your execution—which in turn will determine which resources will be needed, and how they will be allocated.

An effective roadmap ensures that the right initiatives are prioritized, the right steps are in place, and the right resources are allocated, so that your plan can proceed with the necessary speed and impact to meet your organization’s goals.

3. Solve for the fundamentals

Transformation, even at the capability level, means changing the fundamentals of how your health system operates. What governance, organizational design, performance improvements, and operational processes are required to successfully execute and enable your roadmap? What interdependencies must be managed? Is there a path to scaling capabilities and processes needed to make your plan a success?

Initiatives may never get lift-off if you do not have air-tight change management to support them – forget about long-term success. Despite the importance of change management in transformation efforts, a recent AVIA survey found it was the single biggest gap for health systems, with only 5% of respondents identifying themselves as “highly effective.”

4. Measure and Ensure Impact

Lastly, you need to narrow in on the metrics that matter – and measure them. Digital transformation is a $440 million annual opportunity for the average $2 billion health system—but only with the right approach, the right KPIs, and accurate data about your organization’s performance.

Regular review of defined KPIs ensures that your health system receives actionable insights and has the chance to make informed decisions about ongoing initiatives. Reliable, mutually agreed upon, and data-driven feedback makes it possible to continuously improve and optimize the transformation process, driving better results that more effectively serve the needs your organization established at the onset.

Emphasizing measurement and success also helps create a culture of accountability. A recent AVIA survey of health systems found that while 60% of respondents were tracking digital-specific KPIs at the executive level, only a small portion had tied executive incentives to digital performance.

Driving lasting success

Transformation is an ongoing process that requires careful planning, strategic execution, and continuous evaluation. By developing a future-state vision, creating an executable roadmap, solving for the fundamentals, and measuring and ensuring impact, health systems can successfully navigate the digital transformation journey in ways that are meaningful and lasting—not just for your health system, but for the patients and communities you serve.