Navigating IT Modernization for Employees and Patients
“Digital transformation is a journey, not a destination.” Almost every IT firm says it (including us), and there are countless definitions of what that journey means. But here’s the bottom line: transformation is all about people. Implementing digital initiatives that make life better for the people who work for your organization and the people your organization serves. In this final post of our blog series, The Digitally-Driven Pharmacy, we will look at the role people play in the success of your digital modernization efforts by answering the following:
- How do you win the hearts and minds of team members affected by change caused by digital projects and modernization practices?
- How do you modernize without impacting operations or interrupting the patient experience?
Missed anything? Read other posts in The Digitally-Driven Pharmacy series:
- Part I: Early Wins & the ROI-Based Roadmap
- Part II: From Keeping Score to Driving Results with Data
- Part III: 4 Automation Ideas to Reduce Costs & Protect Continuity
The Patient Experience: Improvement without Interruption
Digital modernization is a balancing act – implementing future-ready IT systems while keeping the business running and the patient experience intact. Here are three factors that, when considered during a technology initiative, will ensure the patient journey is uninterrupted.
1. Consider the change that you’re making – and its potential to impact patients.
What type of technology change are you introducing? How ‘patient-facing’ or ‘patient-impacting’ is that change? A wholesale change – such as migrating data from one application to another – has the potential to be very impactful to the patient. In contrast, a smaller change- such as operational dashboards – has far less potential to impact the patient.
2. Create safeguards to avoid impacting your patient population while implementing your project.
Next, evaluate the project from a holistic perspective. The key here is understanding the impact of your change beyond the change itself. This is a two part process that involves:
- Knowing that patient-dependent processes are executing as expected
- Having visibility into how processes and systems are performing overall
Here’s an example that illustrates the process: let’s say your pharmacy is implementing a new system for referral receipt. This project includes receiving new electronic referrals and creating the appropriate data for that referral, including patient demographics as well as prescription data. From a monitoring perspective, the tech team will naturally monitor for the creation of patient and prescription data – this allows them to know that the specific project is working as expected. That’s part one. But is that enough? It’s possible, but you can’t be sure until you’ve taken a closer look and understand all upstream and downstream impacts. That’s part two.
In this case, project-level monitoring is not enough – many dependent project processes use the same data to complete the business cycle. Once you know that patients and prescriptions are getting created, it’s time to dig deeper to confirm that same data can be safely used to submit a claim, fulfill the prescription, collect payment for it, and more. And because this project also has a high patient impact potential (see step 1 above), monitoring activity should be a priority for the technology team as well as their business partners.
3. Understand the business you are supporting.
Understanding the overall business processes and your customer’s objectives will put you in a position to deliver a more reliable project from a technology as well as a business perspective.
In the following example, you’ll see how these three factors work together to implement a significant patient-facing change without interrupting the patient experience.
Improving Patient Services and Data by Restructuring PHI System Environments
IT releases were causing system disruptions and delays in patient care for a large US pharmacy. Resolving the underlying causes required a holistic view of processes and system data. Through a collaboration with AgileThought, a testing environment was created that simulated the real number of data in production, but without displaying patient information – using algorithms to scramble sensitive data. For example, all phone numbers would start with “555” in testing. To securely manipulate patient information, the testing team needed to refresh and secure the pre-production environment. This would set the stage to securely move the real data into the scramble process
An innovative solution to protecting patient data.
The entire project was completed in thirty hours – with zero interruptions to patient services. The result was a faster, more stable release cycle that nearly eliminated system update delays, maintained compliance with PHI and HIPAA regulations, and improved patient services.
- 10 – 15 production issues per update/release
- System downtime
- Interrupted patient services
- 1 – 2 production issues every few months
- Faster system release updates
- Improved patient service
- Increased productivity
Note: A strong IT-LOB alignment stems from being able to manage the balance of:
Modernization: managing the change (more on this below) and adaptation from legacy systems, multiple integrations, and millions of patient data points
And innovation: leveraging next-generation data technologies and predictive analytics to deliver stronger patient experiences.
Systems need to do the jobs they were designed for while IT can build on them and continue to innovate. Leaning on the right managed services team will free up internal IT staff to focus on more strategic projects and opens the door for further innovation.
A strong example comes from digital workforce technologies: Another pharmacy customer approached us to automate processes in patient record keeping and to streamline workflows. By implementing an RPA-driven automation, fully supported by a RUN team around the clock, thousands of patient records are updated every day – the equivalent of 150 FTEs – unlocking the digital workforce.
Managing the journey to modernization is just as important as the technology and processes. And it begins with winning over the hearts and minds of your teams.
Change Management: Winning the Hearts and Minds of Your Teams
One of the most challenging aspects of digital modernization is changing the mindset of the individuals in an organization – it is often overlooked and underappreciated. There probably are as many reasons as there are companies but suffice it to say that resistance to change is a given.
To mitigate that resistance and realize the full benefits of the technologies you are implementing, follow these six steps:
1. Focus on the why, not the what.
Last year, the average employee experienced 12 changes; this year, we’ve stopped keeping count. “Change Fatigue” is real, which makes it critical that organizations articulate how new technologies will make employees’ work lives more efficient and productive.
2. Find your unofficial leaders and listen to them.
Every company has “unofficial leaders,” people who are already demonstrating the behaviors you need for modernization. They can tell you about the change readiness of your organization, where resistance will occur, and the effort required to overcome resistance.
3. Anticipate stumbling blocks ….
Set your people up for success by considering what they will need from the new IT systems to be productive. What technical skills do they already have and what do they need to develop? How will their jobs change as a result of the new technology?
4. … And remove them before anyone stumbles.
Armed with what you learned in the step above, you can determine the type of training, support, recruitment, and workforce changes your people will need to be successful.
5. Engage and empower users.
Engage users of the new technology and encourage them to play an active role in the implementation effort. By allowing users to be actively involved in the process, they’ll be more invested in the outcome.
6. Communication should be transparent and two-way.
Clear, proactive, and continuous communication is vital. Openly address employees’ questions and concerns regularly. Be transparent about progress as well; share regular updates, celebrate wins, and give praise where praise is due.
“We’ve got to be digital. We’ve got to be transformational.” It’s the mantra and mandate of today’s digital age. However, realizing the full value of IT investments made in the name of digital transformation remains a challenge. When working with an IT consultancy, it’s best to learn about their experience before committing to a long-term relationship.
Outsourcing-as-a-Trial: Try Before You Buy
When selecting long-term partners, IT leaders are finding trial periods with vendors valuable. As a proving ground, a trial allows trust and confidence to build around shared objectives. To make this outsourcing-as-a-trial approach as beneficial as possible, we developed RxIgnite, a 5-week trial program for prospective pharmacy customers. Key activities include:
- Business outcomes workshop
- Technology gap and efficiency review
- Improvement and automation opportunity roundtable
- Comprehensive project roadmap design
- Change management workshops
- Project planning and prioritization based on strict ROI criteria
The program also helps the customer map a path toward a more adaptive IT environment so that when it comes time to modernize, the transition becomes seamless.
Over the past seventeen years, AgileThought has worked with many of the largest pharmacy organizations in the world to deliver tens of millions of dollars in IT cost benefits. We even go as far as to train other IT vendors in pharmacy operations and next-gen digital practices.
Get the White Paper: The Digitally-Driven Pharmacy: 8 Proven Elements that Maximize IT Project Value and Accelerate Transformation