4 Principles Driving Healthcare Technology Transformation

By Alan Payne, Chief Digital & Information Officer, Nuffield Health Published on May. 21, 2018

In order for an industry and its businesses to evolve and transform successfully, it needs the right building blocks and investments in technology.

Over two decades ago, banking went through a series of pivotal, but difficult, learnings in order to become the dominant fintech economy we know today: the single customer viewpoint; the ability to manage risks; management of online security and privacy; and the adoption of customer-centric models all provided the necessary building blocks for businesses to be able to use information and data to support the customer.

In short, technology transformed the industry.

I haven’t seen much of that in Health Tech yet. For example, even after the colossal investments in technology in the UK, we are still far too dependent on paper records. Having had experience in both industries, I’m interested in this disparity. Is it an industry-wide fault? Is it the way numerous stakeholders approach each challenge separately and in information silos?

Surely we should be leveraging the experiences of other industries if we can’t learn independently.

Health Tech is currently where banking was over 20 years ago, so rather than seeing it as a stagnant industry, I see the relationship between healthcare and technology as very young. Certain characteristics from other sectors can be useful and I use them to approach technology and data challenges at Nuffield Health.

The characteristic, or trend, that the wider Health Tech industry needs to learn in order to evolve successfully, is about information being available at the right place, for the right person, at the right time.

It then needs to be accessible through a connected system supported by the right technology. How the healthcare industry approaches the challenge of accessible information and true data transformation may differ between vertical and country, but the framework and infrastructure being built at Nuffield Health is being led by four guiding principles, or pillars, which we have been using to great effect.

I think the wider Health Tech industry would benefit from these pillars, too.

Four Guiding Principles for Health Tech

Pillar 1: Data

The first pillar is data, and data-led insight.

Do not make any decisions based on feeling or emotion. Use concrete data to support your theories and guide your next steps as a business.

Whether it’s about the customer, your research, or segmentation; personal experience is useful to a point, but for Health Tech to truly evolve, it needs to truly embrace data led insight.

Pillar 2: Clinical Excellence

The next pillar is clinical excellence, which for me includes behavioral science.

Clinical excellence provides the robustness that you need to deliver credible solutions to your customers.

Behavioral science creates an understanding that when you design and deliver solutions, they are based on valid theories, proven to work, that augment the customer experience whilst driving efficacy.

As an example, preventative health solutions should be based from great behavior change experiments, like Nudge or COM-B (Prof. Susan Michie’s powerful studies) that relate to the capability, opportunity and motivation to deliver sustained behavior change.

Pillar 3: Customer Experience

Thirdly, the Health Tech industry needs to embrace customer experience.

Every industry knows that you must design products and services with the customer in mind, so why not healthcare?

At Nuffield Health, we are guided by our TLC program: Think Like a Customer.

Whatever you’re designing within the organization, you’re always thinking about how to make that end user experience as beautiful as possible.

It should be simple, understandable, and built with intuitive capability.

We have two types of customers at Nuffield Health: our patients who use our services, and our 25,000 clinicians who we have to support across our domain.

Neither want to use badly designed, labor intensive products where they have to continually re-input data each time, which links back to the connected capability I introduced earlier on. The customer-centric model is integral to supporting a connected information network because it’s what they would like to see too.

Pillar 4: Technology

Technology is the final pillar, because it’s the last thing you should consider in this equation. Technology allows us to scale, and to be secure, robust and repeatable in our delivery.

To summarize: make decisions based around measurable data, understand that it should be centered around clinical evidence and a strongly accredited capability, and then design your model, or product, or service, around the customer.

Once those have been achieved, you may then use technology to enable all of those things in a connected, scalable, and robust way.

It’s a relatively concise and deliberate method of achieving technological capabilities, and as many of these touchpoints are used to great success in other, more digitally advanced industries, Health Tech needs to gain an understanding of these if it wishes to evolve itself.

Looking more specifically at Nuffield Health, I was brought in to deliver the connected health network that is so important for the transportation of data, information and clinical understanding.

The aim of the connected health tech network is for a patient or customer to be listened to by Nuffield Health at each point along their journey; offered the best possible care; and then for us to be able to prevent further need of the healthcare- a preventative, customer-centric model.

It’s important that any information a patient provides or receives is accessible from the same source each time, meaning there’s no repeat of what he or she has already told you, which is a pain-point for customers.

Data and digital technology are fundamental for our vision and application of connected health, and if you extrapolate this learning to the rest of the Health Tech industry, it’s easy to understand why its decades behind other sectors.

An industry needs to have access to quality information that’s digitally housed, with the capability to interoperate, and to move data safely and robustly to the people that need it, when they need it.

Those capabilities, if not achieved, will stall an industry in its digital evolution.

The four pillars outlined above should underpin our national health system, as well as an interconnected industry, and no one nation can become a leader of digital health if it fails to invest efficiently and effectively in the right technology to leverage a data-first, information-rich, customer-centric model.