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October 15, 2019
SCALABLE DIGITAL HEALTH INITIATIVES: HOW TO GET THERE (PART IIB)
By: Shannon Tobolov

In a previous blog, I identified six capabilities that all organisations need to survive in the dynamic evolving Health Ecosystem, using the metaphor of the human body. As a follow up to that, my last blog featured 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. Here, I’ll go into the last three: innovation, platforms and partnerships.


Innovation involves the use of creative thinking and cutting-edge technology and can be likened to the blood that fuels our bodies, acting as a connecting life-force. Globally, innovation is transforming the delivery of healthcare. According to a 2018 Accenture study of government innovation across 10 countries, including Australia, it was identified that leading health and human services organisations are driving and managing innovation by building maturity in three core competency areas and four innovation enablers.1

Innovation Core Competencies and Enablers

Core innovation competencies include innovation leadership & culture (innovation leaders demonstrate the importance of innovation, along with their commitment to it, by incorporating clear objectives into the organisation’s strategy and fostering collaboration internally), innovation ecosystems (tailored and targeted third-party collaboration with expert partners throughout the ecosystem fosters creative thinking), innovation technologies (the incorporation newly accessible technologies into innovation-focused projects to transform back and front-end operations and result in changes to organisations’ operating models) and core innovation enablers (in addition to these three competencies, leading organisations focus on developing core innovation enablers like a dedicated administrative budget, commitment to find innovation skills, frameworks to evaluate return on innovation investments and potential public impact, and repeatable and scalable processes which see prototypes or pilots transformed into full implementations).


Platforms provide the connected infrastructure (or the ‘skeleton’) that enables organisations to rapidly build an integrated portfolio of digital experiences across a variety of end user channels. Digital is increasingly being extended across organisations in new business models. The platform skeleton and service-oriented architectures gives them the capability to innovate with rich data sources, new workforce models, integrated business processes, and new services. Like Uber, platforms are being developed to help connect health service supply and demand. Successful platforms like LinkedIn and Amazon demonstrate that there are common principles that can be applied to any organisation’s platforms to create and scale a portfolio of digital experiences that meet users’ needs when and where they need it. Technology is the enabler; however, it is the marketplace of producers who contribute to the platform and consumers who receive value from the platform that organisations need to focus on to create and scale growth across a community of users.

Insights from Successful Platforms


Organs work together to maintain a functioning human body. Similarly, in the Health Ecosystem, no single organisation can work independently to achieve desired results. Partnerships in the Health Ecosystem are not new—healthcare works off a system of referrals, payments, transitions and delivery of care. What is changing is that digital is enabling new care models that are site-agnostic and value-based. In the United States for example, Sinai Hospital worked with non-profit organisation HealthCare Access Maryland to reduce hospital admissions for at risk patients, particularly those who frequently visited the emergency department.2

We have witnessed these shifts across industries over the past several years with the rise of strategic partnerships and new business model innovations that provide new market entry, growth and efficiencies fuelled by microservice architectures, platforms and blockchain. Indeed, 91 percent of public service leaders think that engagement in a digital partner ecosystem is critical.3 Additionally, 80 percent of large companies have identified the importance of collaborating with government agencies over the next three years to drive innovation and growth.3 To drive economic value and social improvement, governments are well-positioned to provide platform foundations for partnerships that can connect companies with government agencies, other businesses and wider society through the use APIs, making it easier for all to plug into and play in the broader Health Ecosystem. Health enterprises similarly have an opportunity to better share available resources and core competencies while improving customer experiences by integrating core business functionalities with third parties and their platforms.

There are several different partnership types to consider, each with different aims and levels of binding agreement depending on the strategic direction of involved organisations.

Different Types of Partnerships

The new leaders of the Health Ecosystem need to look across the core survival capabilities of data intelligence (brain), User-centricity (heart), agility (muscles), innovation (blood), platforms (skeleton) and partnerships (whole body) to determine how to prioritise and build these into their business strategy and operating model. These new ways of ecosystem thinking may call for internal digital capabilities while others have a better ROI through third parties or partnerships to accelerate outcomes.

This blog is best read in conjunction with the previous two…if you have comments on these or any other aspects of the developing Health Ecosystem, or want to know how to achieve scalable, successful digital health initiatives, please feel free to contact me.


1Innovation with Purpose. A 2018 Accenture study of government Human Services and Health Agencies innovation in 10 countries including Australia.
2https://www.aha.org/system/files/hpoe/Reports-HPOE/2017/hospital-community-partnerships-case-study-compendium.pdf, pp13-14
3https://www.accenture.com/t20170804T011626Z__w__/pl-en/_acnmedia/PDF-51/Accenture-Strategy-DD-Move-Over-Silicon-Valley-PoV.pdf#zoom=50

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