Healthcare
Enterprise Excellence Digital transformation People and Organization

An apple a day keeps the doctor away!

How do we embrace technology to fundamentally benefit from it? What will be the impact on our current processes or organizational structures and how will it eventually increase value for the patient?
Peter De Clerck

It is a common understanding, apples have a good claim to promote health benefits. The interpretation of it on the other hand can nowadays be somehow dubious, or at least technology connotated. In a context of healthcare that is conceivably not too far-fetched.

If we consider for instance the rising impact of robotics in surgery, the usage of video consultation or even the application of virtual reality for learning and training, we truly begin to understand how these examples are rapidly changing today’s healthcare system. Together with an ever more aging population and a continuous increase in costs, the sector will require solutions perhaps far beyond today’s acceptable spectrum.

Question remains, how do we embrace technology to fundamentally benefit from it? What will be the impact on our current processes or organizational structures and how will it eventually increase value for the patient? Finally, how will we be capable of commencing, accelerating and sustaining such a kind of transformation in a sector subject to these rapid (r)evolution?

Moving beyond failure

Complex organizational change in fact requires constant attention. Reaching clarity in vision and direction, simplicity in strategy and determinism in execution are key. It is about transforming the organization into a fast-moving, decisive, and result-driven entity, where failure is accepted, but where compelling data and insights, most probably derived from advanced technology, are used to learn from and to improve.

For years, healthcare organizations have been adopting and adapting well-known practices of lean manufacturing. Although these improvement tools have proven their success, many apply them in their organization with little to no success. It is only once you begin to understand that lean management – rooted in values, principles and beliefs – is a philosophy, you will start to acknowledge the importance of culture and how failure is just a step towards excellence.

Does a digital culture exist?

It is hard to believe there is such a thing as a digital culture. There is however, to our understanding, an organizational culture that continuously strives for perfection and is able to reinvent itself. An organization that can handle the effects of technology even when it impacts the established structures and existing processes, bearing in mind it still needs to result in increased value for the patient. In other words, a healthcare organization, capable of embracing any kind of change … including a (digital) transformation.

Reaching excellence in healthcare will more than ever require agility as a whole and flexibility within your operations. Although culture might be considered abstract, once you deduct it to ‘people’, ‘values’ and ‘beliefs’ it gets that tangible, deeper meaning we urge for. If you do it right you can actually translate it into ideal behaviors you would like to observe within your hospital. Once you truly grasp the notion of behavior and how it drives your organization, we are convinced you can build your processes, tooling and systems around it and give them a proper, valuable meaning within your organization.

Quid leadership behavior

A culture of improving every single day, of celebrating the small successes as much as the breakthrough results requires a fundamental shift in an organization’s thinking and doing. More than ever, ideal leadership behavior will be necessary to turnaround, especially within a sector liable to technological evolution and the subsequent investments.

The return on these investments may not always be evident on the short term. However, when carefully chosen, in the long run these investments may actually support the transition from ‘sick care’ to improved healthcare, create the required operational efficiency, improve the quality of care and eventually increase patient and employee satisfaction.

Courageous leadership is vital in such a context: hospital leaders who develop a curious mindset, who go out there and learn how things are working in their hospital, who engage all staff in the organization and empower, respect them for their worth. In other words, a type of leadership that can drive the organization from a higher purpose within, especially in times of increased use of technology. To conclude, an apple may have that technology connotation, nevertheless understanding its dual meaning will give you more than ever the competitive advantage you ultimately strive for.

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Peter De Clerck