HIMSS 2018 – Intelligent Disruption and Digital Transformation are Upon Us

HIMSS 2018We need to look no further than the nightly news cycle to appreciate the disruption of the healthcare industry is at full throttle. This is clear from mergers between some of the largest companies in different healthcare sectors, to the recent announcement that Amazon will be partnering with JPMorgan and Berkshire Hathaway to create a new health insurance company. While details are scant, we can be certain Amazon will be looking to apply their transformative digital technology to the healthcare sector, breaking old models in search of better consumer and provider engagement with an eye toward cost-efficiency, enhanced customer service and better quality. And then there’s the Apple announcement

The simple fact is the healthcare industry has been ripe for disruption for decades. However, the many traditional obstacles including complexity, culture, and lack of financial incentives that reward quality and efficiency have stood as the many-layered fortress preventing innovation and intelligent disruption. I use the phrase “intelligent disruption” to refer to disruption that is thoughtful, good and beneficial, as opposed to disruption organizations are unprepared for and results in adverse, undesirable consequences.

No matter the industry, data is the fuel of digital transformation. The seeds of disruption were planted in healthcare with HITECH and meaningful use. I would suggest the broad availability of rich, deep clinical data from electronic healthcare records combined with next-generation analytic architectures and machine learning is going to open the floodgates on innovation and disruption in healthcare.

The availability of clinical data and new analytic architectures are not the only components required to positively disrupt the healthcare industry. In parallel are the pervasive use of mobile technology, fitness devices and other healthcare IoT (Internet of Things) devices. BI Intelligence forecasts that the installed base of healthcare IoT devices, not including wearable device such as fitness trackers, will grow from approximately 95 million in 2015 to 646 million in 2020. If you include wearable devices, BI Intelligence forecasts an additional 162.9 million units by 2020.

In addition, the increasing consumerization of healthcare, and the growing awareness and focus on health and prevention rather than treating illness, are among many other positive trends.

If data is the fuel of digital transformation, data management and analytics are the engine. It’s tempting to focus only on the highly-visible and snazzy aspect of analytics as being the engine of data-driven digital transformation, but we have seen time-and-again over the years that analytics applied to ungoverned and untrustworthy data does not incite change. These sorts of insights encourage disagreement and entrenchment while putting the data in question. And the small dollops of analytics accomplished by a limited cadre of dedicated data workers hardly drive change at an enterprise level, much less an entire market.

Rather, it’s the ability to manage enterprise data as an asset – much like we manage money, people and capital assets – that will make the difference. And, when data is managed this way – so that it is catalogued, governed, universally understood, and trusted – then we can democratize access and put data and insights into the hands of virtually everyone in the organization to enhance service, quality and efficiency. When these insights are inevitably challenged, the results can be quickly and clearly explained and defended – enhancing the belief in data and transforming an organization to one that is data-driven.

Managing enterprise data as an asset is not an easy task. Nor is it optional. There’s no way Amazon could run their business if they tolerated the poor data quality and ambiguity about their customers, suppliers and products that healthcare organizations routinely allow to occur about their members, patients, and care activities. And let there be no mistake – it is this discipline around data management and analytics that Amazon will be bringing to the healthcare market. It is this discipline around data management that will be the engine of healthcare’s intelligent disruption. Even the most prestigious healthcare brands will need to reinvent themselves to remain competitive. There’s a new data sheriff in town, and her name is Amazon.

Continue the conversation with me at HIMSS18. Check out where to find us here. I also invite you to check out my speaking session, How to succeed at managing data as an asset, on Tuesday, March 6.