Are You Really Prepared for Emerging Healthcare Technologies?

May 1, 2018

Executives say they are prepared for the upheaval budding technologies represent, but few are truly prepared, according to a West Monroe report.

Executives feel prepared for the upheaval that emerging technologies represent-but few are truly ready for the operational, competitive, cultural, and security shifts that are already taking place, according to a new report.

The report, “Technology is Transforming Everything: Businesses Struggle To Change With It,” identifies and measures the gaps in knowledge, activity, and structure that businesses must close to survive and thrive in the evolving technology landscape. In the fourth quarter of 2017, online surveys were distributed to decision-makers at companies across the United States in financial services, healthcare, and energy and utilities. The results were tabulated, analyzed and released in first quarter 2018. In total, 300 companies completed the online survey. Leaders include C-suite executives, vice presidents, directors, and managers across IT, finance, operations, marketing/sales, and executive management. 

Will Hinde

“Company leaders feel prepared for the ‘shift’ to a technology-fueled business world, but few are truly ready for the actual changes that need to be made,” says Will Hinde, a managing director with West Monroe Partners, leader of the firm’s Healthcare and Life Sciences practice. “Those changes are operational, cultural, financial-in every part of an organization. Right now, many leaders consider technology an expensive line item, a list of tools, or something to outsource. Instead, they should be thinking of it as equal to business strategy. In our minds, business strategy is technology and technology is business strategy.” 

Key study findings include:

  • 68% of business and technology leaders do not believe competitors are successfully leveraging their data
  • 42% did not classify disruptive technologies as threats
  • 96% of business and technology leaders are concerned about cybersecurity, but 25% still report having reactive cybersecurity strategies
  • Only one-third of respondents report having customer-experience-focused technology initiatives in flight

Technology is fuel in the new business world, according to Hinde. “It underpins everything, from delivering on customer expectations to running efficient operations to making sound, strategic business decisions,” he says. “The survey findings are important because they show how healthcare thinks and acts differently from other industries when it comes to technology. Sure, industries have different challenges, constituents, and regulations. But when you see data points like 81% of healthcare leaders think their competitors are not leveraging their data to create business value, versus only 56% of financial services companies, it's an eye-opening difference.”

Based on the report, Hinde offers healthcare executives three key takeaways:

  • Keeping up with trends is the leading technology challenge for healthcare companies. Half (49%) of the healthcare respondents said keeping up with technology trends and applying them to the industry is their primary challenge. “Even in this digital age, some of the largest payer and provider organizations we've worked with haven't been able to justify the transition away from mainframes, faxes, and paper,” Hinde says. “Surprisingly, one in five said they don't have any technology-related challenges-this is a prime example of leaders saying they’re ready versus reality.”
     
  • Healthcare was the industry farthest along in cloud adoption. Why? “Respondents told us the cloud provides them a way to reduce risks and lower cost for IT infrastructure,” Hinde says. “They also told us cloud technology will create the most business opportunity in the next five years-over technologies like robotics and machine learning. The next step, in our belief, is to leverage the cloud for interoperability and care coordination and using the cloud to facilitate secure and efficient communication across the care continuum, from patient-doctor, doctor-payer, payer-member, and so on.”
     
  • Healthcare leaders were far behind in viewing their data as a strategic asset. Only one-third consider their data as a strategic resource, compared with two-thirds of the financial services industry, according to the survey. “This is where they have the most improvement, according to our survey results,” Hinde says. “That likely stems from healthcare equating ‘data’ with patient information, which the industry is adamant, and rightfully so, about maintaining private.” But using data in aggregate, to spot patterns in patient populations or make better decisions (based on a more complete medical history, for example) are scenarios that should propel healthcare leaders to view data as a strategic advantage, according to Hinde.