Honestly Assess Digitally Transforming Your Healthcare Organization

Jim McKeen
January 31, 2018

Honestly Assess Digitally Transforming Your Healthcare Organization

Healthcare organizations that successfully digitally transform themselves can seize new opportunities – while organizations that don’t will likely become obsolete. In the first post of this series, “8 Stages for Digitally Transforming Your Healthcare Organization,” a structured yet flexible approach to digitally transforming your healthcare organization was presented.  The first of these steps was to honestly assess digital transformation of your healthcare organization.

In this post, the first step of the digital transformation journey of your healthcare organization will be explored in greater depth.

Background: Areas to Honestly Assess Digitally Transforming Your Healthcare Organization

All business types – healthcare or otherwise – have key areas that must be reviewed and considered in detail prior to developing a vision for digital transformation.

Common areas for companies looking to digitally transform themselves should include, (but are certainly not limited to depending on the organization, department, issue, or initiative being looked at):

  1. 1. Customers – There Can Be Many
  2. 2. Business Capabilities
  3. 3. Roles & Skills of Available Resources – Employees and Partners
  4. 4. Company Culture & Collaboration
  5. 5. Business and Financial Models
  6. 6. Technology Opportunities
  7. 7. Competitive Environment
  8. 8. Incentives
  9. 9. Regulatory Framework


Each of the above areas may demand a different set of strategies, operational changes, and technologies – particularly for organizations who already made certain progress in their digital transformation journey.  It’s also important to keep in mind that successfully completing an effective digital transformation in the healthcare industry can be more difficult given who your customer is, the regulatory framework, incentives, financial models, culture and existing business models, etc. Thus, a clear and unbiased assessment of your healthcare organization’s current digital readiness in each of the above areas is foundational to developing the vision of your digital transformation.

With that said, now we can dig deeper.  And the first area to address is this…

You Must Know Who Your Customer Is

One consideration not always universally clear to all those involved in the process of digitally transformation within their healthcare organization is: ‘Who is our customer?’

Your “Customers” Are More than Just “Patients”:

Individual consumers, existing patients, employers, physicians, hospitals, health plans, government entities like Medicare, brokers, and other ancillary third parties are all healthcare constituent stakeholders who must be considered when radically redesigning how your company will serve and interact with them. Like each of the key areas previously noted, each of these different customer types may call for a different set of strategies, operational changes, and technologies.  We will discuss this further below.

Questions & Considerations to Honestly Assess Digital Transformation of Your Healthcare Organization

Assessing the readiness of your healthcare organization to digitally transform itself requires an inventory of its strongest to weakest capabilities. For some organizations, this introspective assessment can be a difficult endeavor to perform on their own. They may choose to engage a 3rd party for assistance. Others reading this blog post – and the others in the series – will be better able to complete an honest assessment of their healthcare organization on their own.

Regardless as to how you initially assess the ability of your healthcare organization to digitally transform itself, our hope at AAJ Technologies is to provide insight and guidance to help you explore what place you want to stake out in the digital future of healthcare. (These are just some of many types of questions AAJ might ask and then help answer in a typical engagement.  Our discovery process can go into great detail regarding your current situation and future goals)

Areas of Digital Transformation:

Customers – There Can Be Many

In healthcare, understanding who your real customers are, and the often unclear and often subtle needs of those customers who may not be obvious have, is one of the primary challenges in the healthcare industry.

  1. 1. How will you engage differently with customers if you had a magic wand?
  2. 2. What digital methods and technology might create more value for your customers, beyond product value, that your company is not currently offering?
  3. 3. Do your current customers have digital engagement expectations that are not being served? On a 1:1 or 1:M basis?
  4. 4. What are the core characteristics of the different customer types your company serves?
  5. 5. How frequently does your organization deliver new value-adding ideas to your customers to keep them engaged?
  6. 6. How do you reach to, interact with and collaborate with your customers?

Business Capabilities

Business capabilities help establish clear connections between business strategy and the projects intended to help execute that strategy.

  1. 1. How might your business partners and employees assess your business capabilities if there were asked by a 3rd party?
  2. 2. Is your organization a leader, a second mover, or a ‘wait till everyone else is doing it’ type of company?
  3. 3. What do you view as the best and worst aspects of your operations, marketing, human resources, information technology and other key support functions?

Roles & Skills of Available Resources – Employees and Partners

Staff must possess the skill sets, technology aptitude and bandwidth to create the data-centric foundation digital change and future innovation require.

  1. 1. Who are the partners who support your vision, not only third-party technology vendors but your own customers and employees?
  2. 2. How have you determined that your staff possess the knowledge-base and skills to move your firm to a digitally transformed state? Where is there a deficit? Rent or buy? Plans to fill the gap?
  3. 3. How does your company leverage cross-functional collaboration – internally and externally – to spur innovation and agility?
  4. 4. How does your IT department serve a core role in strategic, tactical and operational decisions?

Company Culture & Collaboration

Radical change like that brought on by digital transformation challenges the way people and businesses have been doing things -for years or even decades. Assessing the degree of which initial excitement can be overshadowed by uncertainty and reluctance to try something new is key.

  1. 1. To what extent does your organization use service level agreements (SLAs) to interact with internal business groups?
  2. 2. Are your corporate politics non-transparent and predicated on information asymmetries?
  3. 3. To what extent do day-to-day communications at your firm rely on extended voice-mail and lengthy face-to-face meetings?
  4. 4. How often are internal company communications made by leadership? And in what form are these internal communications delivered?
  5. 5. Does your technology staff behave as if your non-IT staff work for them? Or is the other way around? Or is it more of a partnership between the business and technology?
  6. 6. Does your corporate culture encourage information hoarding rather than information sharing?
  7. 7. Do your firm’s current policies block external streaming media, social networking, and some commerce sites to PCs, and apps downloads to mobile devices?

Technology Opportunities

‘Technology’ is the great enabler of Digital Transformation and the intelligent application of cost-effective technologies – both established and emerging – can provide outsized benefits to those who recognize their opportunity.

  1. 1. Which of your current core processes are not supported by automation, advanced analytics and other digital tools?
  2. 2. How well do your current systems interact? Is manual intervention often needed to move information from one system to another? Can ad-hoc management reports be quickly delivered?
  3. 3. Where does your organization’s approach to migrating applications to a cloud environment (on-premises, off-premises, or hybrid) currently stand?
  4. 4. What are your current capabilities for ingesting consumer-generated data? And to what degree can your firm incorporate new sources of information into its systems?
  5. 5. What are the security and privacy issue your customers and partners currently grapple with?
  6. 6. To what extent has your organization made internal database resources accessible to public cloud-based applications?
  7. 7. What is the state of our organization on the scale of the digital transformation continuum as we understand it today?

Competitive Environment

Spending some time assessing your competition can offer tremendous payback and help focus your vision for differentiating your digital offerings.

  1. 1. Who are your true competitors? i.e. competitive set. It might not be who you think.
  2. 2. What potential threats do your competitors pose to your business?
  3. 3. How often do you presently analyze and evaluate your competition?
  4. 4. Where are the gaps between where you think you are in your digital readiness and where an objective 3rd party might say you are?
  5. 5. How does your competitor’s market share compare to the share held by your business?


The importance of incentives – direct, indirect, monetary or otherwise – cannot be ignored. The use of incentives should be considered for all stakeholder constituents.

  1. 1. How can you use incentives to promote alignment between the core stakeholder constituents? (Consumer/Patient – Payer – Provider)
  2. 2. Do your incentive programs include step-by-step procedures of implementation, and allow decision-makers to troubleshoot and correct them when they fail to yield desired results?
  3. 3. How much ease and expense are required for your customer to switch to a competitor’s offering?
  4. 4. How has your company utilized incentive programs in the past and what have been the results?

Regulatory Framework

The healthcare industry faces widespread, intense and uncertain regulation, mandates and often contradictory policies. Your digital transformation must consider this potential impact.

  1. 1. In what ways, if any, has your firm run afoul of legislative and regulatory updates?
  2. 2. What current capabilities does your firm have for collecting, organizing, and evaluating data on the anticipated consequences of new regulations, mandates and policies?
  3. 3. How many designated individuals are responsible for following legislative and regulatory updates, both state and federal, to ensure your firm is kept compliant?

Step 1: Honestly Assess Digital Transformation of Your Healthcare Organization

It’s tempting to view the transformation of a company via the notion: “What should our company look like?”

At AAJ Technologies, we believe healthcare organizations need to build their vision around the tangible value they can create for their customers’ as they progress along their journey. AAJ can help define and clarify that vision using our unique discovery process.  Please use the linked form to learn more about how we can help you do a digital transformation assessment and then execute the process to meet your goals.

Take the first step…

The first step to honestly assessing the digital transformation of your healthcare organization is to gather essential baseline data and context about the current state.  Collecting clear, candid responses to the questions posed above – and many others too as these questions are just examples – will help inform the key decisions that define and direct your healthcare digital transformation initiatives.

In the next post we’ll share insight, ideas and suggestions for Defining a Clear & Flexible Digital Transformation Vision of your digital transformation. And in future posts, we’ll expound on additional considerations for digitally transforming your healthcare organization.

Further readings and case studies on healthcare digital transformation:

AAJ Helps Alternative Home Health Care Improve Patient Care Through Technology


Healthcare System Eliminates Paper, Improves Processes and Increases Revenues with Digital Transformation


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Jim McKeen

ABOUT Jim McKeen

Jim McKeen is the Director of Healthcare Solutions for AAJ Technologies, a full-service systems integrator that helps healthcare payer and provider organizations capitalize on the latest technologies to streamline operations, reduce costs, improve customer / patient care, and — ultimately — boost competitive advantage. Jim has over 25 years’ experience in the technology industry beginning in South Florida with NYNEX Business Systems in 1990 where he was the General Manager for one of the top performing offices in the nation. As a highly-regarded professional in the healthcare community, his customers are consistently praising his impeccable service, strategic vision and willingness to stay involved throughout each project delivery. With a solid background in HIT, Jim regularly helps organizations confidently face the unprecedented disruptions associated with Healthcare Information Technologies, Big Data, Portals, Population Health and Integration. Jim has a BA degree in Computer Science from Western Connecticut State University. He is also extremely active in the healthcare community at large, serving as an active member of ACHE, HIMSS, SFHHA, and HFMA. Jim is currently on the HIT Steering Committee for SFHHA and the Past President of the South Florida Chapter for HIMSS. Reach him at jim.mckeen@aajtech.com

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