The digitalisation of service management and care delivery is essential if health and care organisations are to achieve more with increasingly stretched resources.
Making digital health and care happen at pace requires executive teams to have a strong understanding of technology’s potential and make innovation a priority. While chief information officers (CIOs) and IT directors should be strong delivery leaders, their executive colleagues and boards also need to understand and be able to articulate a clear digital vision if we are to see the advances the health service needs.
Many executive leaders we have spoken to say they feel confident in broad terms talking about the specialties of any of their peers – except the CIO. On their journey to the executive table, almost all execs will have grappled with clinical, workforce and financial challenges, but many have had much less exposure to the digital agenda. That knowledge gap makes being a digital champion challenging.
Digital has been developing and evolving rapidly as an industry in its own right as well as within healthcare. We have all seen the transformational impact mobile devices have had on our everyday lives, but few of us have an insight into the strategies architectural, infrastructure, methodology, mobility and others that are needed to deliver what we see on our phones. We see the outcome, not the huge strides in innovation required to make it relevant and accessible. The same is true for digital transformation in healthcare and our exposure to how to make it a success.
There is a huge amount of strategic planning and direction that is needed if you want to see transformational enablement of your healthcare delivery, but this cannot be left to IT. Digital must be a key part of modern healthcare, particularly in the areas where the most advances are being made in outcomes, efficiency and patient engagement and empowerment.
While the detail can rightly be left to the digital experts, management teams need sufficient knowledge to ask the right questions, challenge assumptions and ensure quality and governance are embedded within any transformational programme.
Having a CIO on your executive team is a great first step. Just like every other discipline at the table, you do need someone with depth of knowledge and strategic thinking, as well as a grasp of the opportunity for digital within healthcare delivery. However, the remaining execs still need the knowledge to make digital a real and meaningful part of the organisation, capable of tackling some of your toughest clinical and financial challenges.
You probably already employ many highly talented digital professionals. Like other qualified and committed staff groups, they need a strong investment in support, encouragement, recognition and, most importantly, engagement. Take time to understand what motivates them and what they need from you and your fellow executives to enable progress.
High-performing leadership teams benefit from development programmes to maximise their potential – but does your programme incorporate digital? A series of informative and practical sessions to help you understand the foundations of digital enablement – including mobile strategies, data security, information governance, and technical architecture in the era of Cloud – will help your organisation understand what’s possible, and why effective use of digital is critical to the future sustainability of the NHS.
This knowledge will help you get the most from your in-house digital experts and be clear on when and how to use external specialists. Most importantly, a deeper understanding of digital will put you in a strong position to lead effective transformation programmes that tackle your organisation’s top priorities.
Channel 3 runs Strategic Digital Insight workshops for executive teams. We can help you understand how to incorporate technology into your strategy and lead large, digitally-enabled change programmes.