The democratization of technology

Democratization is breaking down traditional divisions between the technology and business sides of the healthcare organization. Powerful technology capabilities are being put into the hands of the workforce so that they may become agents of change, optimizing their work or remedying pain points on their own. Natural language processing, low-code platforms and robotic process automation (RPA) are just a few of the capabilities and services making technology more accessible.

When people across the business have the power to create technology solutions, those closest to day-to-day business can tackle them head-on. Everyone can be an innovator that sparks transformation. This doesn’t mean turning everyone into an engineer, but rather giving them access to new tools and enabling them to think like technologists and solve problems with technology that is easy to understand and program. Among healthcare executives we surveyed, 84% say they must train people to use and customize technology solutions at the individual level, but without highly technical skills. Of course IT is still part of the equation, managing large implementations and injecting leading-edge technology into the healthcare organization.

This shift could not come at a more critical time in healthcare. As organizations compress digital transformation into a rapid timeframe, they can use these tools to empower all workers to help lead the way.

92%

agree that for tools of technology democratization, organizations need to ensure that training strategies include a focus on security and data governance.

Fortify: Bypass the skills gap

Healthcare traditionally lags other industries in digital transformation. Organizations may not be investing in the right areas to help them be future-ready, and they struggle to recruit and keep tech talent, as high performers prefer to work for leading tech companies. But even as specialized technical skills remain in high demand, healthcare organizations can lean on technology democratization to circumvent the skills gap in some areas. It’s a parallel strategy that will further close the disconnect between workforces and the technologies needed to deliver the most creative solutions to benefit patients everywhere.

The historic reluctance from some clinicians to work with a tech solution designed by their IT departments is due to the belief that it steals time from the patient. By making clinicians part of the technology innovation equation, they can tailor and build tools themselves. Some front-line clinicians may still push back regardless as they are notoriously overworked and even more during the pandemic extra burdens, and may not be able to prioritize tech work items. Health insurers are discovering how digital and AI can have transformational power for their workforce. On average, AI and intelligent technologies could free up to 55% of a health insurer’s workforce capacity, allowing them to work on more strategic tasks.1

Extend: Activate grassroots transformation

Healthcare organizations must invest in their people to establish a grassroots layer for digital transformation. This includes upskilling your current technology workforce and leveraging technology democratization for all employees to circumvent the skills gap in some areas. You don’t need to teach them how to become expert coders, but you do need to train them to think like technologists. This will require a two-pronged approach: teaching workers which tools are available to them and how/when to best deploy them, and also making a real investment in employees’ technology literacy. It’s also important to teach technologists how to be businesspeople who understand healthcare. When both sides are empowered with skills and knowledge, they can better collaborate to support the needs of the organization.

When it comes to sharing available tools, it’s important for people to understand how to see technology not just as a tool, but as a solution. When workers think like technologists, they understand how to create the best solutions to solve a problem or address a need.

Reinvent: Power your new innovation engine

The value of technology democratization and wide-scale technology training will only grow over time in healthcare. Right now, leaders have a chance to reimagine the intersection of technology and the organization—and ultimately to reinvent how their IT and non-IT employees work together. Norms will be tested about who “owns” technology and business growth in the company, as it will, in some ways, be owned by all. Likewise, norms will be challenged about who owns business growth and patient outcome improvement.

With every employee empowered to contribute technological solutions to business needs, the pace of transformation will no longer be limited to how quickly IT teams can roll out new solutions. In fact, 92% of healthcare executives believe technology democratization is becoming critical in their ability to ignite innovation across their organization.

Healthcare executives (92%) believe technology democratization is becoming critical in their ability to ignite innovation across their organization.

Decision points

Fortify: Is your organization poised to take advantage of technology’s growing democratization?

Pick one area where you can begin experimenting with technology democratizing solutions – test this in non-critical environments, such as in back-office functions. Identify what tools your organization may already have access to, or what additional investments need to be made, to power grassroots innovation.

Extend: How are you training your workforce to think like technologists?

Invest in technology literacy and training programs to empower workers with new skills recognizing their varied time availability and prioritization possibilities. This includes upskilling your current technology workforce and teaching employees the “business of tech” by ensuring plans to adopt democratized technologies are accompanied by training for security, governance and more.

Reinvent: How can democratized technologies make IT groups more effective—and vice versa?

Establish voluntary teams to support and guide the use of democratized technologies across your organization. Try using technologies like low-code platforms to bridge the gap between the business and technical sides of your organization so that the workforce truly embraces tech innovation and makes it “theirs.”

1 Intelligent Payer: Superpower your workforce with AI for super value, Accenture, 2021

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