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October 08, 2019
SCALABLE DIGITAL HEALTH INITIATIVES – HOW TO GET THERE (PART IIA)
By: Shannon Tobolov

In my last blog, I identified six capabilities that all organisations need to survive in the dynamic evolving Health Ecosystem, using the metaphor of the human body. Here, I’ll go into more detail on how to leverage the first three of these six capabilities (data intelligence, user-centricity and agility) and get closer to scalable, successful digital health initiatives.


Think of data Intelligence as the ‘brain’ that supports major organisational and clinical decisions. The Health Ecosystem thrives on information, and the quantity of data available is increasing exponentially due to the proliferation of digital sources (such as smart devices and mobile apps). This information may be captured in various clinical and operational systems, including electronic medical records, payment systems or excel spreadsheets. Successful patient-centred actions and outcomes are reliant on the successful identification and exchange of useful, valid and trusted information.

Firstly, organisations should mature data intelligence at an organisational level, and then look to extend these capabilities externally as a part of connected patient journeys and secondary use of data. As seen in Figure 3 below, there are four building blocks of effective data intelligence: 1) Data Capture, 2) Data Insights, 3) Data Veracity, and 4) Data Trust.

The Four Building Blocks of Data Intelligence


Consumers are the heart of Healthcare. User-centric service is vital to the Health Ecosystem, like the beating heart is essential to survival of the human body. In healthcare, user-centricity means designing services that meet the individual and collective needs of all users: patients, families, clinicians, and researchers. This is not a new paradigm – it has been long taught in training programs to develop compassionate and empathetic healthcare clinicians. What is new, however, is that health organisations are beginning to embrace patient and family-centred models as a core strategic and operational imperative, embedding this throughout their policy and service designs. This shift in user-centricity is triggered by growing consumer expectations for more control and choice and the recognition that patients, even ones that share similar demographics or diagnoses, may have unique and different needs.

For example, in a 2018 Consumer Survey of Australians, Accenture found that 75% of people said they would use virtual care for daily support to manage an ongoing health issue, yet less than half (48%) said they would discuss a specific health concern virtually with a doctor or other healthcare provider.1 This indicates that organisations need to look to cross-enterprise engagement, new service channels and/or trusted third parties to perform supporting functions. Digital services, whether they originate inside one’s organisation (e.g. medical devices) or outside (e.g. home sensors, mobile apps), are a key asset to improve patient experiences.


Agility gives strength (or “muscles”) to organisations that need to quickly evaluate opportunities and threats and make fast and effective decisions in the new dynamic Health Ecosystem. While agility is most commonly associated with software development and delivery, an agile organisation more broadly involves a culture of curiosity, flexible priorities, an empowered workforce comprised of small self-organised and cross-functional teams, and effective evaluation and feedback loops. Agile practices can be implemented across all elements of an organisation from strategy through to operations and is pioneered by the organisation’s leadership team. Agility is becoming a necessary ingredient for organisation survival, with the latest global cross-industry State of Agile report finding that 97% of respondents were practising some form of agility and that for 52% of respondents, over half of the teams in their organisation are using agile.2 Agile organisations combine formal structures and processes with rapid learning and decision-making environments. They are supported by human-centred networks of teams that co-design and test creative and innovative solutions and are enabled by technology that turns information into new insights.

One universally important agile capability is to have robust processes in place to quickly test, learn, iterate, scale and sustain solutions. A cornerstone of this is the ability and integrity of capturing and utilising feedback to adapt.

Combining these three capabilities, and the next three (blood/innovation, skeleton/platforms and the whole body/partnerships), is vital to those organisations wanting to meet consumer expectations and to survive in the dynamic evolving Health Ecosystem. If you have thoughts on the first three, or want to discuss the changing Health Ecosystem any further, please feel free to get in touch.


1 https://www.accenture.com/au-en/insights/health/health-au-consumer-survey
2 https://explore.versionone.com/state-of-agile/versionone-12th-annual-state-of-agile-report

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