The State of Digital Health

An insider’s look at key considerations and approaches to digital innovation healthcare providers face today.

An interview with Melinda WagnerMBA, MS, BSN, RN, FACHE
with our guest interviewer, Anthony Sloan

 

Today I have the distinct pleasure of interviewing Melinda Wagner, Senior Client-Partner and Healthcare Strategy Lead at Technossus in Irvine, CA. Melinda has enjoyed a diverse journey in healthcare. She began at the bedside as a nurse working in labor & delivery, critical care, cardiac rehab, and post-anesthesia. With a passion for preventive medicine, she moved to the ambulatory setting and ultimately became the Chief Operating Officer for a large physician-owned healthcare organization.

 

Eager to be a part of the technology and data-enabled transformation in healthcare delivery, Melinda joined Cerner Corporation in July 2012 where she led the startup of the behavioral health product division for 3+ years. Melinda then served as a Client Partner for several complex health systems including Boston Children’s Hospital, Emory Healthcare, and Moffit Cancer Center.

 

Melinda has an MBA from the University of Missouri – Kansas City and is also a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE). Over the years Melinda has developed great insights on all things digital health and digital transformation, so let’s jump right in and hear her thoughts.

 

AnthonySo let’s talk about digital strategies. What are you seeing and hearing in the world of digital transformation specifically around healthcare these days?

 

Melinda – It’s funny, WSJ asked CIOs what buzzwords they are tired of hearing, and not surprising ‘digital’ and ‘digital transformation’ were both on the list. While the words may feel like nails on a chalkboard to many of us, this ‘transformation’ is just now getting really interesting. It’s become pretty clear; Healthcare is a digital business.   We started this journey with the first EMRs 50 years ago. While still far from nirvana, 95% of hospitals and 90% of providers have digitized their patient’s health and billing information into an EHR according to the CDC.

According to HIMSS Analytics, over 83% of healthcare organizations are already using some form of a cloud platform. Some 40% have ERP systems, and nearly as many have CRM systems. The real magic is starting to happen in how we are using the data in tools outside the EHR.

 

The digits around digitization.

 

Consider some of the stats around the “digitalization” of healthcare and you quickly realize just how much healthcare really has changed (despite being a laggard).

  • – By 2026, the digital health market demand will reach 640 billion U.S. dollars according to Global Market Insights, Inc. – (someone is buying into this transition!)
  • – Medical app downloads grew 50 percent year over year to over 3.2 billion downloads across mobile healthcare apps according to Data.ai’s State of Mobile 2021 Report
  • – In 2022, 38 percent of care was delivered virtually according to mHealth Intelligence.
  • – According to the National Center for Health Research, more than 30% of people now use some type of wearable device to monitor their health.
  • – The global healthcare chatbots market is projected to reach  $314.3 million by 2023. Source: MarketandMarkets.com
  • – The global artificial intelligence in healthcare market size is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38.4% from 2022 to 2030. Source: BioSPace.com
  • – The global virtual and augmented reality in the healthcare market is expected to reach $5.1 billion by 2025. Source: Grand View Research. If you’re a healthcare company planning your digital marketing strategy, you should highly consider investing in this technology.

And we haven’t even begun to talk about the impact on research and bio life sciences. The pandemic certainly accelerated the transition but most importantly, we now have demonstrated successes in how individual systems are using this power to improve how they deliver care and how they do business.

 

AnthonyWhat are the most important lessons you see at Technossus as clients are trying to accelerate their digital strategies?

 

MelindaIt’s all about extending care affordably.  Healthcare is about people, and so we must address the diversity of people in how we conceive, design, and deploy technology in the healthcare setting. The newest addition to the buzzwords is ‘equitable by design,’ but I think it is so much more important than a buzzword. I hope it does get overused until it becomes rote in how we think.

 

Digital health can make health systems more efficient and sustainable, and enable them to deliver appropriate quality, affordable, and yes, equitable care. We have to be committed to understanding the digital experience through a DEI lens and investing in the training needed for our technical teams to achieve success for all our consumers.  Measure twice (or as many times as possible) before coding… Another lesson that seems doomed to be repeated is the need to have incredibly strong governance and change management in place before you start. This is an enterprise journey even if on the surface a specific objective only impacts one service line.

 

Digital strategies fail when there is a lack of system-wide alignment on priorities/objectives, lack of project planning/management, and poorly defined or ignored success metrics. It’s not new information, yet we still see it happening more often than not.

 

On setting priorities…and expectations.

 

The saying Rome wasn’t built in a day definitely applies to achieving your digital strategy. Trying to do all things at once will not only be demoralizing to your teams but extremely expensive. Digital strategies cannot be accomplished at the expense of things like cybersecurity, infrastructure management, etc. – these ‘keep the lights on’ kinds of things that actually become more critical as you add on more apps and devices. Start with the masked elephant in the room.

 

Healthcare is a target for would-be attackers so it is not if, but when your organization will get hit. Investing in the continuous modernization and security of your digital infrastructure is simply a cost of doing business. Plan for the less fun aspect of modernization first and make it a priority before security emergencies force you to do so midstream. 

 

Find sensible decision-making strategies from trusted sources. Digital strategies also don’t always mean rip and replace or buying the absolute latest and greatest. Certainly, leave room for truly innovative opportunities that can achieve your defined need. Don’t be afraid of proof of concepts (as long as you follow through on the winners and fail fast on the losers).   As an example, at Technossus we like to refer to the “6 R’s” when thinking about whether to replace, rebuild/modify, buy, or sustain a digital platform. It looks something like this:

 

1. Retain (or Revisit) – “Keep & Reap” –– Keep the application in its current form, at least for now. This doesn’t preclude you from revisiting it in the future.
2. Retire – “Stop & Lop” -– Get rid of the application completely.
3. Rehost – “Lift & Shift” –– Move the application to the cloud (IaaS) and continue to run it in more or less the same form as it currently runs.
4. Replatform – “Lift, Tinker, & Shift” –– Move the application to the cloud and perform a few changes for cloud optimizations.
5. Refactor – “Cut & Gut” – Rewrite the application, taking advantage of cloud-native architectures.
6. Repurchase – “Drop & Shop”– Replace the application with an alternative, cloud-native application and migrate the data.

 

AnthonyHow do you recommend healthcare systems prioritize their objectives?

 

Melinda – The question is really what drives the greatest value (another notably irritating buzzword). It starts with getting into the weeds of asking and holding leaders accountable for their answers on what defines measurable and sustainable value and for whom? The backlog blackhole?

I hear all the time from IT leaders that they have hundreds of projects on their backlog…there’s no value to a backlog that can’t be done. In fact, it is demoralizing and creates riffs between those putting in projects and those who can’t even begin to get them all done.   I also know leaders who tie everything on their list to “regulatory and/or patient safety” because they believe nothing else will get done. There is, and always will be a finite number of resources to dedicate to IT and to the digital journey.

 

Trust your data

 

Instead of thinking about what this department needs or that provider wants, ask the tough questions about what delivers concrete impact to your defined metrics of success – and then be vigilant. Don’t be afraid to be bold and go in a different direction than your peers when the data support tells you something different.

 

AnthonyWhat trends do you think are most exciting right now?

 

Melinda – I think of the digital opportunities in several buckets.  People want and deserve more control. Consumer support is one and I am really excited about the ability to put information and tools in the hands of the consumer to help them take accountability for their own health.   In bending the cost curve, personal accountability has been one of the hardest things to impact and while we are still in its infancy, the opportunity to guide consumers on a personalized journey to be the best health advocate for themselves they can be is exciting.  Use AI & ML to save you money, it’s what they’re good at.  In the enterprise support bucket, I think the tools to use AI and ML to improve the cost of doing business from supply chain management to revenue cycle have tremendous value.

 

Personalized care will improve clinician support. In the clinician support area, I am very excited about the pursuit of different care delivery models beyond telehealth into things like ambient support. I am especially excited about the opportunities to help clinicians focus on personalized care. It is truly mind-blowing to me that the physical exam I receive today is essentially the exact same one I received 20 years ago and for the most part the same as my mother received 40 years ago.

 

Digital care sees a change in what we evaluate and for who, especially for mental health. In patient diagnostic/monitoring, therapeutics, and research, I am really excited about the focus on mental health. For literally centuries it was relegated to the shadows. I am sorry it has taken a series of national crises to elevate it but I do believe it will get the needed attention now.  I am hopeful, albeit concerned, that the healthcare regulations and payers keep up with the changes needed to capitalize on the opportunities for advancement.  For example, during COVID part of the reason we could shift so quickly was some requirements were relaxed. It begs the question if they can be relaxed in a crisis, are they necessary at all?  I am by no means suggesting full anarchy, but we can’t stifle progress because of rules that no longer serve the patient or the industry.

 

Closing Thoughts:

 

I want to thank Melinda for her generous time and willingness to share her thoughts and candid insights about these important topics. These are challenging and exciting times for the global healthcare industry. Technology, medicine, research, business, and health provider services seem to be colliding in complex new ways. Let’s hope more good-faith discussions like these will inspire others to make the changes necessary to improve the processes that will impact the communities they serve to the greatest degree possible.

Special thanks to our guest interviewer, Anthony Sloan, for helping us foster another great discussion on innovations in digital health. Antony Sloan is with Anthracite Consulting, Switch4Good, and California State University focusing on the ethics of AI and related technologies.

Until next time,

Team Technossus

Industry leaders weigh in on technology’s role in consumerization, health equity, labor shortages, COVID recovery, and more.

May 5, 2022

 

By Melinda Wagner MBA, MS, BSN, RN, FACHE
Moderator, Sr. Client Partner – Healthcare, Technossus

 

I had the pleasure of moderating an exceptional panel of leaders from diverse backgrounds in healthcare, discussing four critical topics impacting today’s ecosystem. I was humbled by the investment each of these leaders makes in driving change into their organizations and those they consult with and by offering incredible depth in what they are willing to share.

 

Our first topic was ‘Consumerization’ of healthcare, loosely defined as individuals asserting more control over directing their health and wellness. I asked the panel what they saw as the most important factors to address health equity by design and ensure consumerization doesn’t leave behind the most vulnerable in our communities?

 

Mr. Mike Seagraves, who leads the digital transformation consulting practice for Phillips, emphasized that health equity in the consumerization of healthcare is not about technical transformation. Advancing health equity is about asking the right questions and deconstructing institutionalized cultures and the ways of thinking that created the bias in the first place.

 

Mr. Ian Slade, who is a registered nurse and founder of IT Consulting Group and HPMA, further added that true health equity is not “the final coat of paint on the systems we’ve built”, but rather requires a reboot at the foundational level. Technology is part of the solution, but health equity is an organizational transformation in every way.

 

Dr. William Feaster, Vice President, Chief Health Information Officer at Childrens’ of Orange County, shared that, in his experience, access to care, education, information, funding, etc. is the most important aspect of health equity. While certainly not 100%, the mobile phone presents the best opportunity today to reach people where they are, not just for a single transaction, but for a complete digitally-enabled experience.

 

Dr. Robert Lubitz, CMO at 30e Scientific and a Principal at Progressive Healthcare Inc. added that training and tools are needed that help clinicians create culturally competent strategies to care for their patients. Coupled with the low health literacy of much of the population, cultural incompetency creates tremendous communication gaps that negatively impact the provider-patient relationship and patient outcomes.

 

From the payer perspective, Mr. Doug Albro Vice President, Information Systems at Good Samaritan Health, reflected that health equity is not just about physical health care but includes things like mental health, food resources, housing, etc. The overall complexity of navigating the

 

ecosystem and especially the handoffs between sectors is a challenge even for those in the industry. Further, many people have developed distrust in healthcare systems because of past experiences where the system failed to treat them as a person. Engaging people and ultimately driving down the cost of care must include re-establishing the human relationships that have been distorted for transactional procedures.

 

Pivoting the discussion from equity to lessons learned in the digitization of information into the EHR, I asked the panelist what were the most important lessons learned from the EHR era that can now be applied to the consumer’s digital journey? I hope that we can do better for the consumers than we did for the clinicians if we apply what we have learned. Ms. Geri Pavia, who is a Sr. Client Partner at Technossus, offered three specific pieces of advice that she gives her clients:

 

• More is not necessarily better so don’t overwhelm the consumer with data. They need specific information, at the right time that is personalized to them.
• Evaluate where you have data integrity or reconciliation issues and resolve them before you digitize the experience. Even internally across the departments there can be disparities that will at best confuse the patient.
• The EHR has long been seen as an obstacle to the patient-provider relationship so train the clinicians and providers on how to talk with patients, so they use the digital tools as an effective relationship builder. Simple things like teaching them when and how to message the provider or where to find their appointments can become a very quick, WOW moment for the patient.

 

Dr. Feaster pointed out that during the EHR era we built the complexity of the healthcare system right into the EHR spending millions to hard code ourselves into painfully hard-to-use workflows. The lesson is to build for consumers in the same experiential way they do everything else in their lives, i.e. at their fingertips. Think about the patient’s experience first and talk to them.

 

Mr. Seagraves added that while we learned a lot about implementing EHRs, it often never got applied. Leadership has to create growth-minded cultures that value simultaneously “being and becoming’ so that what is developed today also creates the capability for what is needed next. He again said it starts with asking the right questions and not being binary in our thinking.

 

We talked about the impact to consumerization on misaligned incentives among the players in healthcare. Dr. Lubitz reflected that at the start of his practice the data needed on a patient fit on a 3X5 card which evolved into early SOAP notes and eventually the EHR. The promise of EHRs was the ability to support the provider in clinical decision making with the right data but sadly other agendas came into play, and it became about clinically driven billing instead.

 

Mr. Slade pointed out that in other countries, they collect a fraction of the data and still deliver the same, or even, better care. Mr. Albro more bluntly acknowledged absolutely the incentives are misaligned. We could solve our situation if providers, payers, and regulators would align around the patient and use other industry learnings to leapfrog into the modern consumer experience. Why shouldn’t the patient expect to be able to pay for their healthcare in the time it takes to Venmo a friend?

 

Our next topic involved moving quickly but safely on the digital journey. Digital health startups received $57.2 billion worldwide in 2021, according to a report from CB Insights, a New York firm that tracks private companies and how much money they raise. It was a 79% increase from the previous year. I asked the panel how they navigated the market with so many digital technologies hitting the market?

 

Dr. Lubitz and Dr. Feaster both commented on the challenge of not overwhelming the users and the need to invest in things that simplify and elevate any given process/task. The focus has to be on relevance and value to the user, such as deploying robots to unburden the nurse from menial tasks. Mr. Slade commented on the number of organizations that don’t even know what all the systems are that they have today so starting with understanding your foundation and moving slow to go fast is critical.

 

The healthcare industry’s number one problem is the labor shortage. How can we use technology to evolve traditional roles to mitigate the impacts of what is crisis levels in some areas? Dr. Feaster and Mr. Slade both pointed out that while technology can certainly play a role in extending a given clinician’s capacity and ability to work at top of license/role, in nursing, regulations on patient ratios will impede the progress unless they are addressed concurrently.

 

Mr. Seagraves added Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can be a huge satisfier in retaining staff while also optimizing revenue. He further shared that it is not just about clinicians, administrators can also benefit from better use of the data for example via digital twins in making decisions. Dr. Lubitz talked about the use of predictive analytics to anticipate resourcing needs for such things as flu season peaks so the capacity can be flexed with the need.

 

From the payer perspective Mr. Albro shared that while much of their work is remote and they can therefore use professionals such as nurses literally from anywhere around the world, they still must consider the need to simplify the work and optimize the efficiency of their associates. Both Dr. Feaster and Mr. Albro described the convoluted flow of getting a bill to a payer and then actually getting it paid.

 

The answers must come from the HC industry, not from the additional government regulation. Mr. Albro commented the consumer’s level of dissatisfaction with the system is higher now than ever in his career opening the risk that someone will come in and create a completely different system if we miss this opportunity to simplify and win back the patient’s trust.

 

Our final topic was having peaked in the pandemic, and what’s next in the recovery of the industry. One of the most striking impacts of the Pandemic has been how it has both contributed to and illuminated the mental health crisis. Dr. Lubitz added that people have also put off preventive and chronic care management, so we have to find ways to get consumers back into a ‘rhythm of care’.

 

Dr. Feaster pointed out that well people are not a burden on the system so the opportunities for digital technologies to help patients plug into the system in new ways to prevent disease will drive down the demand and cost. Everyone wins. Ms. Pavia and Mr. Slade relayed how mental health impacts of COVID isolation and PTSD won’t be known for years to come especially on the children/young adults. Mr. Slade has personally been working on the use of the Metaverse technology in mental health. It is also applicable in other areas such as primary care, pain management, and pediatrics.

 

As I brought the discussion to a close what struck me most was that despite very diverse backgrounds, the panelists were quite cohesive on what needs to be done to improve the healthcare ecosystems and our patients’ experience.

 

Dr. Feaster pointed out that through COVID, the healthcare industry and governmental agencies demonstrated the ability to rally around a common enemy and pivot our operations and people to respond with exceptional effectiveness. We literally shifted millions of people to work from home, converted entire units to care for the overwhelming volume of COVID patients, relaxed regulations for the good of the patient, transitioned research to practice at lightning speed, solved a global supply chain crisis, innovated, and implemented remote care and video visits and delivered a vaccine in the shortest period in history.

 

For all that we accomplished, there is so much more to do. In my mind, what is yet to be seen is if through continued consumerization and use of digital technology will we once again get mired in the complexities of the traditional healthcare ecosystem or actually transform our industry into a consumer-centric digital health business? Will we consider the lessons of the EHR era or codify our convoluted processes into a consumer’s nightmare?

 

Ultimately will we ensure healthcare is truly accessible for all patients in a way they can simply orchestrate what they need when they need it? I fear if we as an industry don’t continue the collaboration and laser focus, we have shown ourselves capable of, some yet to be identified entity will solve it for us with a completely new system and today’s players could be tomorrow’s Blockbuster story.

 

Thank you, to all our panelists, for such a thought-provoking discussion. And many thanks to all the attendees and organizers of another successful event.

 

If you would like to be part of the next ILF event, please visit our website: https://www.digitalleadershipforums.com/ and follow us on social media: ILF on LinkedIn for more information.

Everyone will reach the age of retirement sometime. Therefore, it is necessary to prepare for the future of the company. Succession planning helps with filling these vacated senior positions across all disciplines.

Though this challenge is associated with all the C-suite roles, it is particularly complicated for the position of CIO.


When a CIO retires, there is a considerable loss of expertise and knowledge in a role that has changed vastly in the last few years. They have dealt with the older digital systems and technology platforms that are no longer used, and it is something a successor might not have.


But, the companies do realize that they can avoid this possible crisis by taking care of this change while the existing CIO still holds the position.

 

 

What is Succession Planning?

Succession planning is a business strategy that organizations use to pass leadership responsibilities to another employee(s). It ensures that the organization continues to function smoothly when a prominent person moves out of the organization. It gives them time to transfer knowledge and ensures that organizations are prepared by advancing or promoting employees at not only the executive or marketing levels.


This plan is not a one-time event, and, therefore, should be updated or re-evaluated every year as changes take place within the organization. When an internal replacement takes place, organizations can train their employees to take control as things change.


Generally, the board of directors looks after succession planning in a bigger organization. They train mid-level employees to occupy these positions. In a family-owned or a small business, succession planning means training the next generation to overtake the role.

 

 

Best Way to Approach Succession Planning

Here are some of the best ways to kick-start the succession planning process at your company:

  • Incent and Recognize Leaders Who Develop Others: Although this is a vital step, companies generally take a manager’s ability to develop others for granted. It should be seen differently, and a company should let a manager train people for different roles across different streams. It links directly with the succession planning readiness results.
  • Engage All Stakeholders Who Will Be Impacted In The Process: HR (Human Resource) team should not own the process, but leaders from the business team should drive this method. HR should be there to facilitate the process and allocate useful tools required by the management. Not to mention, engaging stakeholders, especially senior leadership, is necessary. They should conduct interviews, take surveys, and attend focus groups.
  • Conduct Talent Assessments At Least Annually: This process should not be considered as a static event but a process that constantly changes and evolves. The plan gets outdated as soon as it is created, so you must review their talent consistently. Companies should consider using validated assessment tools like competency-based tools that assess skill, interests, and abilities, 360-degree feedback, and review past performance evaluation data. It will help you understand an individual’s strength in a better way, and you can know their potential, career desires, and development needs.
  • Use Technology: All companies must consider investing in the software solutions space to automate the talent management process. Some solutions allow you to buy only their succession planning module, while others might want you to purchase the entire Human Resources Information System (HRIS) with a succession planning plugin.

 

These kinds of software will help you efficiently update, collect the data and share them with people across the globe. It will allow you to ease the complete process of constantly changing and evolving the plan.

 

 

Reasons It Can Fail

Succession planning can sometimes become devastating. It has so many moving parts that it is sometimes difficult to analyze if everything is moving in the right direction. Here are some of the most common reasons why it can fail:

  • Fixed Mindset Cripples Future Success: A person’s potential illustrates their ability to succeed in a senior role. But what matters is the ability of the person to embrace challenges, grow, and overcome setbacks. When a person is promoted or hired for a role, the successor should know how to tackle setbacks, challenges, or ambiguity. Breakthroughs in psychology, cognitive development, and neurosciences suggest that the growth mindset is a more reliable indicator of future success than past performance. It means that the successor should focus on dealing with complexity, ambiguity, and volatility.
  • Incumbent Does Not Leave: This is one of the vital problems growing continuously. People are not leaving their positions. Few keep working to execute their retirement plans, while others do not want to stop working. Some are encouraged to stay for navigating the organizations in complex situations. Irrespective of the reasons, people who stick around for a longer duration disrupt succession plans.
  • Successors Leave: Regardless of an organization’s effort in identifying the successor, the successor quit because of personal decisions or new opportunities. Therefore, once you find the successor, leadership retention and development must become vital. In today’s world, where there is a shortage of high-potential leaders, the opportunity to move ahead on the ladder might not be enough to keep successor’s on-board.

 

 

Conclusion

It is not difficult to have leading positions filled competently and securely in the long term. The only way to ensure long-term, forward-looking planning and the gradual familiarization of the new employee is by planning early. With thorough succession planning, you can counteract the demographic development and the shortage of skilled workers. It leads to saving money, ensuring a positive image of your company, and satisfaction among the existing employees.

Cloud native can be a tricky issue for large organizations. Even though it is in the initial days of adoption, many organizations debate about the benefits of microservices, dynamic orchestration, and containers. And despite that various enterprises believe that the “full scale” cloud native deployment only seems ideal at best but unrealistic at worst.

In reality, the cloud transformation journeys of most organizations lie somewhere between cloud native and hybrid cloud. A crucial issue for this lag is compliance, or the process through which it is traditionally achieved within large enterprises.

 

The current hybrid environment is not compliant with many tools that enterprises use. In addition to this, there are the ever-changing rising costs of compliance and the regulatory landscape. It makes them shift from “compliance” towards more of a security threat and regulatory directive.

 

 

What Does Cloud Native Mean?

Cloud native cites the concept of building and running applications to leverage the benefits of the distributed computing offered by the cloud delivery model. These apps are built and designed to attain the flexibility, resiliency, elasticity, and scale that the cloud provides.

 

According to the CNCF (Cloud Native Computing Foundation), this technology allows enterprises to run and build scalable applications in hybrid, private and public clouds. The approach is illustrated by declarative application programming interfaces (APIs), immutable infrastructure, microservices, service meshes, and containers.

 

These features allow developers to make high-impact changes with minimum effort and frequency. It enables loosely coupled systems that are observable, manageable, and resilient.

 

Cloud native services allow the development of modern applications using technologies like Kafka, APIs, serverless functions, Docker and Kubernetes. Industry-leading cloud providers enable these services and tools so that developers can build applications faster while reducing operational burden. It provides developers a comprehensive platform for managing, deploying, and building cloud native applications like serverless functions and microservices.

 

 

How Cloud Native Affects the Role of the CIO

The CIO must modify their roles and responsibilities to address the new demands from the departments and different consumption models. Here are the ways in which cloud computing is changing the role of the CIO:

  • Need for Speed: This is a known fact that CIOs must work faster. The world has moved ahead from the era when applications used to take years to develop and run. Cloud computing allows better time-to-market speed and drives more efficiency, after all, the enterprises are no more dependent on the repercussions of software and hardware purchases.
  • Distributed: Many organizations have more than one CIO to ensure businesses leverage technology as a force multiplier and are more agile. It is beneficial for them to have multiple CIOs, each for a line of business. It provides support to the enterprises directly and provides benefits over the line of business to the larger IT organization. Cloud Native’s role in this change can be dated back to the “shadow IT” when departments used cloud computing to bypass IT. Today when CIOs are working at the department level, they are doing it in the same way, but now, IT drives the usage of cloud computing.
  • Technology Brokers: With this technology, more CIOs are getting placed as the lead of cloud services and technology brokerage. It means that rather than buying directly and managing technology for the departments, a broker intermediates the technology using predefined deals. They ensure to get the right cloud services to those who need them. The CIO should understand these deals with outright responsibility as these deals can make or break a business.

 

 

Benefits of Cloud Native

Here are some of the benefits of cloud native:

  • Scalability: The feature of auto scalability in cloud native applications allows them to handle the future needs of applications as they can scale automatically. Even the cost associated with this technology is only for the resources in use.
  • Reliable System: Cloud native applications allow you to use approaches like Kubernetes and microservices. It helps with developing applications that are fault-tolerant with built-in self-healing. Even in the case of failure, it can quickly isolate the impact. Therefore, it does not impact or take down the entire application.
  • Reduced Cost: Containers secure applications and manage them independently of the infrastructure that supports them. Industries are using Kubernetes, an open-source platform, for containers. It is the standard for managing resources in the cloud and allows full benefits from containerization. It is also a host of powerful cloud native tools which enable the standardization of infrastructure and tooling, ultimately leading to cost reduction.
  • Ease of Management: Cloud native helps to make infrastructure management effortless. When you use a serverless platform like Azure function or AWS Lambda, you will not have to worry about operating or managing the configuration of networking, provisioning cloud instances, and allocating storage.
  • Faster Release: Speed of service plays a crucial role in the success of an organization. An organization that can conceive, build, and ship value to customers swiftly is more likely to succeed. And DevOps can play a crucial role in this. They transform the software delivery pipeline using the building, test, and deployment automation. Cloud native applications support DevOps process and automation, which is not possible in local development software developer processes.

 

 

Conclusion

Considering the numerous advantages that cloud native DevOps teams offer, it is only a matter of time before this form of software development becomes fully mainstream. Above all, it can quickly adapt to changing business requirements and technological innovations that make cloud native the application model of the future.

Today, the word patient-centric healthcare has become a buzzword. It aligns with the mass customization trend taking place in society. Technological advancements have drastically changed over the last two decades. It has influenced the way most goods and services are delivered. They are now customized to meet the requirements of people, schedules, and tastes.

 

The same is true for healthcare, where the patient has become the center of the care ecosystem, especially in the case of life insurance.

 

Digitalize Insurance Distribution Channels

The ultimate challenge, and the only real opportunity, lies in digitization. In the future, no life insurer will be able to do without digitization. Almost no life insurer today offers intuitively usable portals, which is partly due to legacy administration systems.

 

The good news is that administration and digital engagement will become much easier in the future as product complexity in new businesses decreases due to the elimination of blended pension products. It allows relying on efficient standard solutions in IT that have already been tried and tested internationally.

 

The “old business” will be replaced one way or the other. From the customer’s point of view, it does not matter whether this is carried out internally or externally. Under certain circumstances, new approaches will also emerge here, such as an industry solution for the clean processing of contracts. From today’s perspective, it is hard to imagine that life insurers can and want to make the effort until significant transformation occurs.

 

 

Focus on Customer Needs

For the digitization of insurance, changing customer expectations are the second driver for more digital innovations. The insurance industry is finally reflecting on its strength: customer advice.

 

To do this, the industry must think of every new product, every new transaction, and every process steps from the user’s perspective. In this way, digitization unfolds the disruptive power that has always been ascribed to it.

 

The trend that the wishes and needs of the customers determine the direction in which products or services develop has long been recognizable in other areas such as the retail or financial sectors. Customers transfer the positive experiences that they have with e-commerce or online banking to other areas- and demand the same level of service.

 

 

Shorten Development Cycles

To offer customers the mentioned services, insurance companies do not have to plan complex waterfall projects. Digitalization is agile and tries to keep the design phase relatively short. This way of working makes it possible to bring the digital insurance manager to live as a white label application within a few weeks.

 

 

Digitization Lowers Costs

New competitors, persistently low-interest rates, and an outdated IT infrastructure: Even before the pandemic, the insurance industry was under cost pressure. The pandemic-related economic crisis has exacerbated this problem, particularly in the area of ​​commercial and industrial insurance.

 

Because of the global interruption of production, supply chains or temporary plant closures have caused high levels of damage. The first consequence of this: According to a survey by Willis Tower Watson, since the outbreak of the Coronavirus, premiums across all lines of insurance have increased by an international average of 10 to 15%.

 

Therefore, digitization is also an essential tool for the insurance industry. It increases efficiency, optimizes processes, and ultimately reduces costs. With consistent implementation, this can succeed along the entire value chain.

 

In another study published in 2016, Bain & Company, together with Google, determined that digital processes can save almost 25% of the costs in the insurance business with commercial and industrial customers. At the same time, there is a chance that earnings will increase by up to 23%.

 

 

Leverage Alternate Data

A key driver of this successful transformation is data. The key question for the insurance industry will be: How can I put my data to good use?

 

For the industry, data has always been an essential part of the business. No risk analysis, no stocktaking, or tariff can do without the necessary information. And this is where data analytics comes into play. It is up to them to harness the data to make informed decisions, and better understand what products and services customers want.

 

When used correctly, data provides orientation and purpose for new approaches in products and sales. At the same time, they allow market and performance comparisons and help the players to better assess themselves and their market position. In this way, data can create overall added value and improve the market- for insurers, brokers, and customers.

 

 

Key Takeaways

Cost pressure, customer needs, process optimization, data analytics- all these terms have had an impact on the digitization of insurance. They form the framework in which digital innovations develop. Based on this, it will be vital for the industry to create potent ecosystems. Cross-channel platforms are ideal for this purpose, which combine both sales and consulting processes, enable access and interpretation of data, take account of controlling and product development and offer a high degree of integration and connectivity to existing programs through interfaces.

Technology is advancing rapidly in today’s world. It has enabled faster change and progress. However, it is not the only thing that evolved during the pandemic. Software professionals have started realizing that their roles will no longer be the same in the future, contactless world. They will have to constantly learn and stay updated with the latest, emerging tech.

 

Today, AI is embedded in our lives like never before. In 2022, we will come across increased usage of AI and tech. Here are some of the top emerging tech that everyone must pay attention to:

 

 

AI Trends

Artificial Intelligence has already created a notable effect on how we live, play, and work. It is known for its usefulness in ride-sharing apps, smartphone personal assistants, navigation apps, speech and image recognition, and a lot more.

 

By using AI, companies have started achieving better results like predicting demands for services and detecting the changing patterns of customer behavior by analyzing data in near real-time.

 

Experts anticipate that the industry will reach $190 billion by 2025. Also, Global investments in cognitive and AI systems are predicted to reach over $57 billion in 2022.

 

 

Faster Market and Operational Agility for AI-Enabled Companies

AI-enabled companies can gain a significant advantage by responding quickly to operational and market changes. Thus, companies have started investing more in AI, especially after the pandemic. As per a survey conducted by PWC, AI is being used in strategic decisions around demand projections, scenario planning, supply chain resilience, and workforce planning.

 

Currently, companies conduct only an annual scenario/strategic planning process, but by creating AI models, they can update it continuously based on competitive moves, demand, operations, changes in supply, etc.

 

AI also helps companies understand the new opportunities and threats. It advances them to insightful forecasting, which is more beneficial than historical reporting.

 

 

Improved Understanding and Mitigation of Risk

Companies are now more aware of the risks associated with AI and the methods to manage them. They want to address AI risks but are slow to take action. The top issues are improving defenses against cyber threats, bias reduction, explainability, and privacy.

 

For any organization, data protection is vital, and AI lives on data and data privacy. In some cases, it is necessary to know why and how AI has made certain decisions while, in others, they might not find it crucial.

 

AI can have many different types of bias risks. The company management must know how to reduce the risks and take action promptly.

 


Other Emerging Tech

Here are some of the other emerging techs of 2022.

 

 

Internet-of-Things

IoT is yet another promising trend. It connects multiple devices or “things” over WiFi. Hence, it is named the Internet of Things. This technology has already helped devices like cars, home appliances, and a lot more to interconnect and exchange their data.

 

Consumers can now lock their houses remotely if they have forgotten to do it while leaving home. Or, they can even preheat the oven while on the way to their homes.

 

Businesses have also come a long way when it comes to using IoT. IoT collects and analyzes data to enable better decision-making, efficiency, and safety for businesses. It also helps in improving customer service, speeding-up medical care, and enabling predictive maintenance.

 

Experts forecast that by 2030, there will be around 50 billion of these IoT devices worldwide. It will create a massive web of interconnected devices which will include everything from kitchen appliances to smartphones. Global spending is expected to reach 1.1 trillion U.S. dollars in 2022.

 

 

Smart Technology Community Integration

Smart cities or intelligent communities went through tremendous challenges in 2021. They went through issues like rising crime rates, tense political climates, extreme weather events, dangerous driving behavior, in addition to the ongoing pandemic.

 

Despite everything, communities have started becoming more sustainable and equitable places to live. Cities are now making their space technically smart. They are attempting to enable fiscal efficiency, enable everyday cryptocurrency exchanges and bring blockchain to the doorstep. They will also try to add more protection concerns, privacy, cyber, and data management as data monetization truly takes shape.

 

 

Conclusion

Since the pandemic, agile and more comprehensive implementation of automation across all functions of an organization is becoming a top priority. Emerging tech has given companies the ability to automate processes and tasks without programming knowledge. Companies can now adapt much more flexibly and quickly to changing business requirements. AI and machine learning will support the work of employees to an even greater extent and help in the cooperation between man and machine.

According to experts from the industry, cyber insurance is in the middle of a “crisis moment.” The main reason behind this is the increasing number of ransomware attacks over the last 12-18 months.

Though this is not a new type of attack, the disturbance caused by ransomware reached new levels in 2021. About 37% of companies experienced a ransomware attack last year.


Advances in Healthcare Cybersecurity

Modern healthcare and technology are extremely interlinked with each other. It is difficult to run a healthcare organization without relying on information technology in today’s world. Like other IT advancements, this has associated risks like malware infection, unauthorized system access, and data corruption.

Here are some vital tips to take your healthcare cybersecurity to the next level.


Passwordless Authentication

Currently, passwords are the source of 81% of data breaches. Password-only protection or even two-factor authentication (2FA) is no longer enough to safeguard data, systems, or networks. It has become a cakewalk for attackers to gain access, steal, and compromise vital data of an organization.

Therefore, companies started using passwordless authentication. With this advancement, people are no longer required to remember passwords and constantly change them. It is achieved by using advanced authentication methods combined with risk-based analysis. This authentication is basically a combination of authentication methods like biometrics, mobile app, and multilayered risk analysis such as device recognition, IP reputation, and behavior analytics.


Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)

SASE represents a model that defines security as network functionality and cloud service delivered. It could also be defined as a managed service package managed via the cloud. SASE consolidates network and security solutions from different vendors.

Single-vendor solutions offer better integration and centralized management. It simplifies implementation, configuration, reporting, and support services. Because SASE architectures require migration of security functions to the cloud, less hardware is required overall, which improves the architecture’s elasticity and scalability.


Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)

ZTNA is a set of functionalities and technologies that enables secure remote access to internal apps. It gives remote users secure, seamless connectivity to private applications without placing them on the network. In contrast to a Virtual Private Network (VPN), no tunnels are set up between the client and the central company network, but dedicated application connections are established.

It offers a way to connect applications, users, and data, even when they are not using the company’s network, where micro-services-based applications can reside on multiple clouds and on-premises.


Emerging Technology

Technologies in healthcare have changed how health is measured, managed, and ensured. With the new challenges facing healthcare, these solutions help companies by increasing performance, improving system collaboration, and controlling costs. As the demands on healthcare organizations increase, technology can streamline processes, automate tasks, and improve workflows on a scale that humans alone cannot achieve. Here are two of the emerging technology in healthcare cybersecurity:


Homomorphic Encryption

Homomorphic encryption is a type of encryption that helps computation by converting it to ciphertext to ensure the originality of knowledge during transmission. According to the report published by Marketing Research Future (MRFR), the global homomorphic encryption market is expected to expand at a remarkable CAGR of 7.55% during the forecast period 2016-2027 and the valuation of USD 268.3 million to the top of the forecast period will be successful.

It has enormous potential, especially when it comes to data in the cloud. Currently, the data must first be decrypted before calculations can be performed on them. And while they are decrypted, they are vulnerable to hacking. On the other hand, homomorphic encryption is used to avoid the decryption step, and data protection is guaranteed.

Homomorphic encryption does not affect the results obtained when performing calculations on encrypted data. The results are the same as for analysis based on decrypted data.


Blockchain

A blockchain is a distributed, public database having no central control authority and still meets various information security requirements, such as integrity and availability. New records in the database are added as blocks at the end of previous records, creating a kind of chain. Each block contains the checksum of the past block, which ensures that the chain cannot be easily manipulated.

Blockchain technology can be used to better control the quality of medicines since the entire production chain, from manufacture to temperature fluctuations and the transport route to delivery to pharmacies could be monitored and stored in the blockchain. The result is if the cold chain is not maintained, the drug will not be delivered. Regardless, pharmaceutical companies could assign each drug a QR code that patients can scan to verify its authenticity. It would not be impossible to falsify this, but it would be much more complex than it has been up to now.


Ransomware in 2022 and How to Prepare

The term “ransomware” has already characterized the year 2021 and has thus increasingly appeared in the media. In the USA alone, targeted ransomware attacks demanded more than 500 million dollars in ransom with blackmail Trojans in the first half of the year. It is a type of malware in which attackers try to penetrate a company’s network to gain complete control.

On successful completion, the data is usually encrypted, and companies are blackmailed for a ransom demand in the form of cryptocurrencies. The blackmail Trojan is extremely popular with criminals, especially because of the increasing number of remote and hybrid working models.

To protect against ransomware, organizations should be proactive and develop a cybersecurity plan against malware. Since it is very difficult to detect and combat ransomware, you should use various protective mechanisms. The most important protection is the training and sensitization of employees. Only those who know that ransomware exists and how it works can also recognize such attacks. Good spam filters, frequent data backups, and keeping systems updated are some ways to prepare against ransomware.


Key Takeaways

All healthcare cybersecurity trends of 2022 have one thing in common: Modern companies not only want to – they have to use new, and innovative technologies. They are looking for solutions that will advance their business. Security is an important part of this trend and is of utmost priority.

According to a study by Accenture, total IT digital spending is projected to reach 55% by 2023, up by around 10% from 2021. The pandemic has surely accelerated the wave of riding the digital transformation. In 2022, IT investments continue to leverage technologies that will drive innovation and business transformation. They will be spending a lot more in new and existing technology.

Let us look at some of these essential IT investments for 2022.


Cloud-Native Managed Service

According to GlobalData forecasting, the global cloud computing market will reach $616 billion by the end of 2022, which is 13% more than 2021. Cloud-managed services will be a vital IT investment for businesses this year.

With this need of redesigning to become cloud-centric, even data center security will become essential. Thus, GlobalData expects cyber security investments to rise, particularly the SAAS (security-as-a-service) to stop cyberattacks.

Successful organizations will safeguard their applications and data to make work easy for their remote workers. They can use these cloud-native applications to keep the operation running even when there is a higher risk of downtime.


Data and Analytics

According to Global Big Data and Business Analytics, the market is projected to reach $684.12 billion by 2030, which was valued at only $198.08 billion in 2020. It results in a CAGR of 13.5% from 2021 to 2030. The data volume is increasing every day with new technologies and devices.

Data analysis helps organizations by identifying the requirements of the client, their social behavior, and buying habits. A technically sound data and analytics team enables organizations to efficiently forecast, plan, and make decisions wisely.

With so much data accumulated by the companies, there is always a threat of hacking and data breaches. This technology helps companies identify threats, while trend analysis and regression algorithms help recognize suspicious irregularities and/or activities.


Employee Experience

Companies often try new things to increase the productivity and retention rate of their employees. They often use Employee Experience software to achieve this goal.

Employee Experience software helps managers and employees determine exactly how they feel. It offers support and encouragement to co-workers, provides them feedback as they develop, coaches new hires, and conducts surveys. It makes employees feel valued and allows the management to enforce and use the feedback or suggestions.

Moreover, software like this helps with employee retention. People often want to leave their jobs because of a lack of recognition of their performance, poor relationships at work, or missing skills for business goals. Employee Experience software helps employees feel connected to their teams and leaders as they receive the proper assessment and understand what’s expected.


Customer Experience

In 2021, customer experience became the key brand differentiator overtaking both products and prices. Customers now hold more decision-making power. Thus, in 2022, it should be a priority for all organizations to make them feel powerful.

According to a study conducted by Watermark Consulting in 2015, companies that invest in customer experience achieve higher profits and growth. A good customer experience also lengthens their relationship with such companies.

This technology also lets the team function better by providing feedback to the employees. The team can work on changing strategies to make a customer happy if the feedback is not good. On the contrary, good feedback can make them feel motivated.


Security

According to cyber security statistics, by 2023, the number of DDoS attacks will rise to $15.4 million.

Cyber security, therefore, evolved quickly from being just an IT issue to a business problem. Thus, investing in the right kind of IT support products, cyber security advisory services, and cyber security training has become necessary. Cyber security secures businesses from many security risks, like adware, spyware, and ransomware.

These investments save money for businesses exponentially in the long run. When a network undergoes a cyberattack, it affects its work cycle and daily sales. Sometimes, in the case of a ransomware attack, the organization might also have to pay an enormous amount to intruders to get their data back. By making the network secure, organizations can avoid all these losses.


Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence lets systems automatically analyze and enhance experiences without being explicitly programmed. It has proved helpful for most sectors, like robots, enterprise, education, defense, automobile, etc.

AI can help solve the labor shortage problem by reaching job seekers from a more diverse field. It can study people’s behavior, social media feeds, and previous jobs to determine if they fit in a given role.

This technology also helps automate work, increasing the production rate and allowing reduced lead times, improved product quality, superior safety, and more efficient use of raw materials. AI can also take care of performing any recurring tasks that are monotonous and draining for employees. It is especially helpful for the sales, marketing, and HR departments of the business, leading to quick execution of the business processes without needing any manual effort.


Key Takeaways

The pandemic has created a notable impact on the IT industry. It will continue to reflect in 2022. IT budgets are expected to increase, and tech vendors will serve IT buyers better by understanding their goals and needs as companies navigate these changes. These investments allow businesses to achieve success milestones easily by offering better products or services.

The pandemic ignited the embers of digital health transformation creating an urgency for everything from patient engagement to core back-office operations and business models. Seemingly overnight, the industry deployed technology-enabled access to appointments, touchless transactions, mobile health, remote patient monitoring, telehealth, virtual care, care at home, and so much more. As leaders reimagine the post pandemic reality, digital innovation will continue to be a catalyzing force. Vynz Research data predicts that the global digital health market will grow from 182B to over 610B USD by 2027. COVID has jolted the industry and the consumers to discard the obstacles and embrace the sweeping changes needed for digital transformation to become the new normal.   

 

Healthcare leaders are learning what it means to be a digital business. Accenture stated in their Digital Health Technology Vision 2021 report that systems around the world are compressing their 10-year infrastructure plans to 3-yearsand 96% report that they will be in the cloud this year. To sustain and continue advancing their capacity for digital solutions, organizations are grappling with the investment needed for modernized technology stacks, cloud infrastructure, and connectivity to support the complexity of this new ecosystem. It simply isn’t optional any longer. 

 

The global disruption has also revitalized the emphasis on strategic partnerships to stabilize and successfully navigate the new ecosystem. As the pandemic raged on, the boundaries blurred as every stakeholder – patient, provider, payer, government – was faced with the constraints of the individualized systems, revealing glaring gaps under the weight of the crisis. In this new ecosystem, organizations with well executed partnerships will be able to transact, share data, and move between processes and platforms in a frictionless manner. Selecting the right enterprise partnerships and building effective governance structures will be critical to maximizing efficiency, reducing wasted and duplicated efforts, and realizing value of the digital transformation.   

 

With the investment, and well executed ecosystem, comes the opportunity to improve outcomes for patients, expand market share, gain efficiencies in business operations and care delivery, and establish new sources of revenues. In a recent survey by McKinsey and Company, 40% of consumers indicate they will continue using telehealth and have interest in a broader range of virtual solutions. As much as 25% of consumers will select providers based on their digital experiences. Likewise, 84% of providers surveyed reported they would continue to provide telehealth post pandemic. To compete for the consumers and recruit top talent, healthcare leaders will need data-informed strategies that create the best overall experience, titrating the mix of virtual care, remote patient monitoring, AI, and a host of other digital solutions with the need for human engagement.    

 

In this new world of accelerated transformation, healthcare is being reimagined before our eyes. Leaders who urgently execute on a well-defined digital strategy can lead their markets while others will fall behind faster than ever before. Innovative partnerships, often between unlikely parties, can reduce the friction and constraints which historically prevented an efficient ecosystem. Ultimately with new delivery models and digital tools we can provide a better experience for the patients, their families and the clinicians.      

 

 

Melinda Wagner MBA, MS, BSN, FACHE is the Healthcare Sr. Client Partner for Technossus, LLC a highly recognized, global consulting firm. Our consultants are proven thought leaders and have solved complex technology challenges for Clients in the Healthcare, Financial Services, and Bio-Sciences Industries. Technossus believes that technology is a powerful tool, but it’s just that — a tool that needs to be wielded properly to deliver the desired results.  We help companies tackle challenges head-on through digital transformation.  Visit us at www.Technossus.com  

Over the past year, companies have discovered that remote work does not hurt productivity as much as once believed. Research has shown that remote work can even increase productivity, positively impacting an organization’s bottom line. One study found that over 90 percent of executives thought productivity stayed the same or increased.

 

In the post-pandemic world, more than 80 percent of companies are planning for hybrid teams. CIOs will need to prepare for this new, hybrid workplace. It means developing practices and policies that cultivate a team culture in a remote environment. One way to do this is to establish some rules to guide your hybrid team. Here are three rules that you can implement to help your hybrid team succeed.   

 

1.Tools and Equipment

Members of your hybrid team must take ownership of their digital acuity. However, CIOs should be clear about the minimum competencies for employees concerning productivity tools. There needs to be some continuity to allow team members to communicate effectively with one another.

You will also need to provision equipment and offer adequate help desk service. In a successful hybrid team, no one should feel left behind. Be sure to check with each employee that they have what they need in their remote office, including reliable internet connection, devices, and connectivity software. Offer any training or tips that may be required to get your team on the same page.

 

2.Hybrid Team Unity and Health

Recent surveys have found employees can suffer mentally and emotionally when working from home.  Anxiety, stress, and loss of sleep are some of the major issues that hybrid team members may face. A Telus International report found that 80 percent of workers would leave their jobs to work somewhere that focused on improving employees’ mental health.

It is essential to help members of your hybrid team avoid the negative impact of isolation and disconnectedness that can result from working at home. Peer-to-peer relationships and social connections can help remote workers overcome these risks.

Cultivate connectedness with water cooler events or team building activities and encourage all hybrid team members to participate. Be transparent with news or changes that will impact your team. Helping each member feel informed can combat feelings of isolation.

Creating an attitude of unity, inclusion, and team engagement may not be easy, but it is crucial. Managers need to be empathetic to the challenges of th remote team. Offer flexibility for employees who may need time off during the day for other responsibilities, such as a medical appointment or to pick up kids from school or other activities. Watch for signs that someone on your hybrid team may be struggling and reach out to them. Good managers who make themselves available to hybrid team members create a positive remote work experience.

 

Time Management and Hybrid Team Coordination

To build an effective hybrid team, you’ll also need to provide some guidance around the use of time. For example, let employees know what a reasonable response time is to a request from a team member. It’s also useful to be clear about flexibility and how teams are expected to use their work time.

One key to effective hybrid teams is to allow employees the flexibility to balance their work-life time. As long as the work is being completed and they attend meetings and activities when required, you don’t need to monitor their every move.

Having a schedule for collaborative time during the week will help strengthen the team’s connection and productivity. Aim for a good mix of individual work and team work time. For example, set Mondays and Wednesdays aside as in-person meetings and workdays so that everyone on the team knows where they need to be. Doing this can also overcome any perceived inequality between in-office workers and your hybrid team.

Set guidelines around response times, such as team members will respond within two hours if they receive a chat message in the collaboration software tool, but give them a day to respond to non-urgent emails.

 

Organizations are still adjusting to the new hybrid-work model, and it will take some time to get it right. It’s okay to figure it out as you go, but having some guidelines and rules in place can help everyone stay on track during the journey.

The global pandemic has placed IT at the forefront of business development. Over the past several months, it has been IT initiatives that have kept companies running. IBM research found that 59 percent of organizations accelerated digital transformation, and 66 percent were able to find more support for previously resisted initiatives at their companies.  

An Accenture study found that companies that used technology innovation during the pandemic saw revenue growth five times faster than organizations that lagged.

However, as organizations struggle to recover from a financially tumultuous year, many are looking to IT leaders to develop new forms of revenue production. According to a study from PwC, 32 percent of CFOs are looking to offer tech-driven products and services to grow their business.

What that looks like could be different for every company, depending on the industry they are in. Still, there are some opportunities that every organization can take to drive revenue with IT.

 

Turn an Internal App Into a Product

One option for IT leaders is to turn internal, custom-made apps into a product. Consider the software solutions that your business has designed internally and determine if there is a market for it on a wider scale.

Has there been an internal IT problem that your team has solved by devising its own tech solution? Are you using AI or machine learning to improve productivity? Does your company have internally-created automation options that you could market?

Is it possible to tweak the app so that it will be more applicable to other organizations? Perhaps vendors would have a use for your app? Think about whether there are some variables that you could adjust for different industries.

A benefit of this option is that you already have a working model to showcase to potential customers and buyers.

 

Build Customer-Centric Platforms

Prior to the pandemic, telehealth solutions were not widely used. However, that changed when government lockdowns and transmission fears prompted more and more patients to rely on this safe alternative for physician visits and assessments. And even as the pandemic wanes, patients will still rely on telehealth platforms, which are more convenient than sitting in a waiting room for hours on end.

In the same way, IT teams can brainstorm some customer-centric platforms that your business could design and build. Whether you are a B2B or B2C organization, customers are essential to the process. You need to know them, their needs and wants. For IT departments, dream up tech solutions that empower your customers. Build a platform that will put them in the driver’s seat to meet their needs and desires.

 

Expedite Product Development

What does your IT team need in order to deliver new products more quickly? Are there microservices that you can develop at a faster pace? Software solutions that are simple and easy to use can have significant benefits for customers. The key is to provide something of value for consumers that will help them as they go about their business.

Some organizations invest time building a platform that allows them to continually update the products they have for customers. For example, a bank may build a customer-centric platform that offers insight into customer’s spending habits, enabling them to make better financial decisions. Over time, the bank can add more and more options for customers. It can unlock both direct and indirect streams of revenue for your company.

 

Over the past year, companies have seen IT departments pivot from enabling businesses to being revenue drivers. As technology becomes a tool not just to help a company with internal processes but a key ingredient in customer service and product design, IT teams have the opportunity to build innovative tech tools and have a direct impact on the company’s bottom line.

IT automation holds a lot of promise for companies, but it may not be the right solution for every problem. When done right, automating processes can free up IT staff to focus on more critical business operations. But the key lies in automating the right IT tasks.

What Is IT Automation?

IT automation refers to the use of software to complete instructions and processes with IT systems. It is also called infrastructure automation. The goal is to substitute or cut back on the need for human interaction with IT systems. Software that has been designed for IT automation is capable of carrying out tasks that have been defined according to instructions, tools or frameworks.

 

Digital transformation and IT optimization require IT automation. Organizations need to scale up their IT systems fast, and that is possible with automation. The idea is that if there is an IT task to be done, you can use automation. It can integrate with nearly anything, including:

  • Network automation
  • Infrastructure
  • Cloud provision
  • Standard operating environments
  • Application deployment
  • Configuration management

 

Some automation software may even have capabilities or applications in more specific areas, such as containers, DevOps, cloud, edge computing, security, testing, and monitoring/alerting.

 

 

Where It Will Work

Organizations that take a holistic approach to IT automation will find countless ways to relieve employees of repetitive, manual processes. Your teams will be free to be more productive and focus on more important business tasks. Adding IT automation into the mix will also improve collaboration and reduce errors. Here are some of the areas that companies can effectively implement IT automation:

 

Provisioning – Business systems need infrastructure, and it needs to be setup. This is where IT automation is helpful. While in the past, IT revolved around data centers that included cables, boxes, racks, etc., it is now more about cloud assets. These include networks, storage, virtual machines, and containers. Due to these changes, companies need to codify processes so that they adapt to the modern way of doing business. It is also essential to cut costs and improve efficiency. Yet, setting up these environments can be a tedious and time-consuming process. With codification, it becomes easier as there are templates that automated systems can use to do the work. Doing this uses your current infrastructure and management tools to set you up for the future.  

 

Configuration management – After your provision has been automated, there is still more work that needs to be done. Applications need different settings, file systems, ports, users, etc., and you can automate how these resources do their job. Moreover, as you add to your systems, you’ll need a way to record and manage the systems efficiently. Using a strong configuration management solution can simplify the automation scripts and procedures, making it easier for your employees to focus on more critical tasks.

 

Orchestration – Most companies have complex IT systems. Unless you are using just one service on one machine, it can be challenging to manage it all. You’ll need to define several automated tasks that will need to work in the same systems and machines. This is where orchestration comes in and how you can use automation solutions to keep everything running.  These solutions will be able to monitor and control all the moving parts, including multiple apps, different data centers and infrastructures, as well as public, private and hybrid cloud deployments. It will be easier to keep track of them, connect them, and bring in even more advanced systems.

 

IT migration – Moving data or software from one system to another is called IT migration. The process may involve different kinds of movement, such as data migration, application migration, operating system migration, or cloud migration. These projects are often very specific to a business’s needs. IT automation can streamline the process and make things run quicker and more accurately.

 

App deployment – To get the best from your apps, you need a strong automated system regardless of your approach to deployment. To have effective app deployment, you need efficient automation for essential tasks and capabilities. It is particularly important during the testing phase. Using deployment automation allows you to transition from building to testing to deployment seamlessly. It also reduces the chance of human error.

 

Security and compliance – You can make security and compliance simple for staff by defining policies and automating the steps in your infrastructure. The results will be to put security front and centre of your IT processes. In addition, by standardizing processes and workflows, compliance will become easier. With IT automation, you’ll be able to verify the consistency of procedures.

 

 

Where It Won’t Work

While it can help simplify processes, IT automation may not be the answer for every problem. There are some places where it won’t work. It is essential to understand what these instances might be. Here are some things to consider before implementing IT automation:

  • What are the bottlenecks in your company’s processes?
  • What area will get the most benefit from automation?
  • Is there a pattern of help requests that signal a possible need for automation?
  • Will employees buy into the change?

 

 

IT automation can help simplify and streamline IT processes, eliminating the need for manual intervention. However, companies must identify what tasks should be automated from those that should not. Tasks like provisioning, configuration management, app deployment, and security and compliance are ideal for automation. Removing the need for human involvement in mundane and repeatable tasks frees up your IT staff to focus on more important work.

Advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning systems have enabled computers to analyze data faster and more accurately than humans. With the large amount of information collected by healthcare providers, using AI in clinical settings can help interpret patient data for a more accurate, early diagnosis of issues. It also holds the promise of identifying more successful treatments and helping overcome the predicted shortfall of 9.9 million healthcare professionals.

While many AI-enabled solutions are already being used in the industry, for example, real-time intervention, data collaboration, personalized care and prescription auditing, there will be more opportunities to integrate tech solutions with healthcare. Researchers believe that using AI in clinical healthcare has the potential to save $150 billion for the economy over the next few years.

 

 

Real-Time Intervention

Delivering real-time insights has been one of the biggest challenges of AI-enabled care. This struggle is primarily based on the tech available and the level of adoption. For example, while voice recognition technology is a valuable tool for dictation, it fails to provide a more robust decision-support system. If voice recognition technology could provide additional insights for healthcare providers regarding  diagnosis and treating illnesses, it would be a much more powerful tool.

 

Although some tech solutions developed that offer real-time insights, they lack a wide level of adoption. One example is the smartwatch-based COVID diagnosis app developed at Stanford University. The app, created with the help of Amazon, can analyze heart rates and track other abnormalities in patients who may be infected with COVID-19. A tool like this would be beneficial if it could be scaled up and used to push real-time alerts to patients.

 

 

Data Collaboration

Collaborations between large tech organizations and healthcare providers provide the promise of a better AI-enabled healthcare future. One example includes Truveta, which involves 14 different health systems. The goal is to combine patient data from all the systems and develop advanced analytics to improve patient outcomes.

 

Other significant partnerships have been announced between Google and Mayo Clinic, Ascension Health and Highmark. The possibilities with these collaborations include data analysis for measures, benchmarking, and administrative reporting.

 

Over and above their partnership with Google, the Mayo Clinic is also pursuing data collaboration with AI startups to collect information from remote monitoring devices. Additionally, Highmark has created a 10-year partnership with Christiana Care. They will be sharing medical and claims data to create better outcomes for patients.

 

Using datasets to improve patient experiences and enhance efficiencies in the healthcare system is one of the strongest reasons to use AI-enabled care.

 

 

Other Clinical AI Use Cases

There are other ways that clinical AI can enhance healthcare and improve outcomes for patients, such as:

 

Automated diagnosis – Using tools like chatbots, patients will better positioned to self-diagnose or offer more assistance to physicians and healthcare providers with diagnosis. Some smartphone apps are already capable of providing patients with health and triage information based on their symptoms. The benefit that chatbots hold for the industry will increase as more data is collected and accuracy improves.

 

Prescription auditing – AI can be applied to help patients manage their prescriptions. Audit systems utilizing AI technology will be able to minimize prescription errors for patients, providing safer healthcare.

 

Personalized care – Creating personalized treatment plans for patients using AI technology will enable healthcare providers to cut back on costs while improving the efficiency of patient care. For example, providers can use machine learning to analyze information and discover the best patient treatments for each condition. By analyzing big data, AI tools present an opportunity to identify solutions that create a more personalized and successful healthcare experience.

 

Surgical robots – Using robots to assist in surgical procedures can help physicians improve accuracy and avoid exhaustion. These tools are designed to help with procedures that use repetitive movements. An additional benefit of robot-assisted surgeries is the machine’s ability to recognize patterns of procedures, which can then be used to identify best practices. This knowledge can also be used to improve the accuracy of the robot.

 

 

Is the Patient Ready?

As technology advances and becomes more sophisticated, the question of whether patients will welcome these tools in their healthcare journeys remains a hurdle. There is still a level of mistrust in machines when it comes to something as personal as one’s health. Some healthcare providers are still reluctant to adopt AI-enabled tools for patient care, particularly for those with more complex health issues.

 

Moreover, many patients are reluctant to trust a chatbot for medical advice. The overuse of these tools by other industries for marketing and sales purposes has led to a mistrust of the technology.

 

However, the administrative aspect of AI technology has proven to be one of the most successful applications. Using solutions that can quickly and accurately sort through large amounts of data is a boon for most healthcare organizations.

 

 

As AI and machine learning systems continue to mature, the use cases for the technology in healthcare will also expand. From improving patient outcomes through collaboration, customer-facing technologies, and tools to assist healthcare providers, AI-enabled clinical solutions hold promise to overcome challenges in the industry, such as rising costs of patient healthcare and forecasted short staffing issues.  In the end, it will come down to encouraging a wider acceptance of the tools by providers and patients.

IT governance plays a key role in helping organizations reach goals and objectives. It can be an essential component to advance business strategy. Unfortunately, IT leaders may have some mistaken beliefs that hinder the effectiveness of IT governance. In some cases, these misconceptions can even work against business objectives. In this case, organizations may become saddled with unnecessary risks, compliance issues, and missed opportunities.

To get IT and business governance working together, leaders will need to reject fallacies floating around the industry. Here are some of the myths that can hinder IT governance in any organization.

 

 

Outsourcing a Business Process Outsources its Risk

Cybersecurity remains a genuine, and very serious risk for all companies, regardless of industry. A recent survey found that nearly 80 percent of IT leaders felt their companies didn’t have enough protection against cyberattacks. While increasing the cybersecurity budget may help businesses think they are safe, the reality is that outsourcing increases the risk of harm. Many IT leaders fail to investigate the cyber hygiene habits of third-party vendors. Instead, leaders often assumed that these organizations are doing all they can to protect themselves and your data. Unfortunately, this can be a costly mistake that isn’t recognized until it is too late.

 

To mitigate the risk and protect your organization’s data, assess third-party vendors’ cybersecurity activities. It is essential to understand their processes and controls. Consider those actions against the risk of the data you are entrusting to them. But, for even better IT governance, monitor the vendor’s performance to see that the best measures are in place and working. These assessments should become standard operating procedures for your organization.

 

 

IT Governance Eliminates Cost Control Issues

One of the benefits of IT governance is the increase in visibility and control over costs. It gets better over time as governance controls develop, cost overruns will become less common. However, keeping costs down is not a one-time activity. There needs to be ongoing monitoring and effort made in IT cost optimization.

 

During the provisioning process, governance will be vital in keeping the costs down. To further reduce expenses, IT leaders should look for different ways to reduce costs. For example, those organizations that operate in the cloud should take advantage of the scalability and versatility. You can create a schedule for those resources that do not need to be available 24-7. Also, be aware of any discounts that providers are offering.

 

 

Software Can Resolve Problems Rooted Within the Organization

To get the most from workflow software, you need to have well-defined processes in place first. Software is only a tool to carry out the operation. It is not designed to be the method. Therefore, it is crucial for IT governance to clearly define vision, mission, and objectives. Once established, governance can then create operational processes that efficiently carry out these objectives and goals.

 

Only once these processes develop can you select the right software tools to assist in the process. Many times, organizations lack a well-defined process to achieve business goals. Having the right tools in place is vital but clearly defining business processes is the first step.

 

 

IT Governance Can be Achieved Through a Single Pane of Glass

While IT governance is an essential component of reducing risk and utilizing resources and strategies to meet business objectives, it often cannot be reduced to a simple business report. Unfortunately, most organizations require these reporting activities to determine the effectiveness of actions taken.

 

Many vendors claim their tool or solution is the key to conducting the evaluation desired by the organization. However, the reality is that the demand for comprehensive data often outpaces the ability to collect and analyze such data. Additionally, the fast pace of technology and change within the industry means that the information and data shift too rapidly for most IT departments to keep up.

 

Organizations that want to use these reporting tools to see the efficiency of IT governance when it comes to risk, security, compliance, controls, and cost would be better to invest in multiple reporting solutions. It will provide a more accurate view of the state of things rather than trying to determine the effectiveness of IT governance with a single tool.

 

Metrics Ensure Compliance

Numbers have no relevance unless there is context surrounding them. While organizations need to collect and compile metrics to measure a program’s success, this data on its own cannot verify compliance.

 

IT governance requires a complete understanding of people, processes, and technologies. Good leaders understand that a business goal determines IT spending. The IT solutions then give way to the next set of plans for the business.

 

A more reasonable approach to IT governance is to see how the metrics compare from quarter to quarter.  Leaders should look for consistency in the data. If you are happy with what you are seeing, then there is no urgent need to change.

 

 

One last point on good IT governance is that it should constantly be changing and evolving. Look for better ways or solutions for your business processes that can improve efficiency and reduce costs. Business goals and needs change over time, so too should your IT governance.

A few months ago, the U.S. government warned of an increase in cybercrimes against hospitals and healthcare providers. Many hackers want to take advantage of the disruption that COVID-19 is causing in the industry. From ransomware to data theft to interference with services, online criminals are using a variety of different methods to hack in and gain access to healthcare computer systems.

One study by Comparitech found there were 92 ransomware attacks that hit 600 different clinics, hospitals, and healthcare providers last year alone. The cost is estimated to be nearly $21 billion. Over 18 million patient records have been at risk. When compared with 2019, researchers say there has been a 60 percent increase in attacks on healthcare organizations.

 

 

Healthcare is Primed for Cyberattacks

The healthcare industry is a prime target for cyberattacks due to the connectivity of computers, medical devices, and patient data. A rising number of organizations are falling prey to hackers, including hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and biomedical businesses. Unfortunately, many of these companies are not in a position to protect their systems and data as well as those in other industries.

 

One key factor may be the prevailing view that healthcare executives have when it comes to technology. Most consider cybersecurity a compliance issue rather than a business risk. From this perspective, healthcare organizations have not invested in technology or training up staff in proper cyber hygiene practices. This lack of preparation has left healthcare companies at high risk for cyber attacks. Compared with other industries such as the banking and finance sector, healthcare CIOs have not taken cybersecurity as seriously as it should.

 

 

Hospital IT Needs to Bolster its Security Practices

As a response to the increase in attacks on hospitals and other healthcare centers, IT leaders need to strengthen their security practices. Protecting systems and patients can be done in several ways, starting with innovative cybersecurity solutions.

 

It begins with healthcare CIOs realizing the threat and taking it seriously. Unfortunately, one survey found that 96 percent of IT professionals said that data hackers had a leg up when it comes to technology. Most budget allocation for cybersecurity is not proactive but instead a response to a data breach the organization experienced.

 

Another high-risk factor cause by COVID-19 is the increase in remote work. Employees working from home have been given little direction with regards to cyber hygiene. Only 10 percent of healthcare or hospital workers who shifted to at-home work received updated guidelines. Healthcare CIOs need to train employees on basic cybersecurity practices, such as recognizing phishing attacks.

 

IT departments need to actively monitor the devices, computers, and systems at their organization. Hospitals using IoT connected devices should have a process for tracking key data like IP addresses, printers, and local area networks. Moreover, there needs to be an established procedure to disconnect devices or systems quickly when an anomaly is detected.

 

 

Ransomware is the Chief Concern

Ransomware has been a major problem for medical facilities. What can make it worse is when a healthcare provider pays the ransom, which only encourages attackers. While the total amount paid in ransomware attacks last year is scarce, data from three attacks published by Comparitech shows how profitable these types of cybercrimes can be:

  • Champaign-Urbana Public Health District paid over $300,000;
  • The University of San Francisco’s School of Medicine paid $1.14m;
  • The University Hospital New Jersey paid $672,744.

 

Downtime can add to the cost of ransomware attacks. Hours, days, weeks, and even months can be spent trying to get systems back up and running.

 

Healthcare workers are prime targets for ransomware attacks as many are stressed, overworked, and worn out from responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many employees may be more likely to click on risky links sent via email or text message in their weakness.

 

 

Being informed, prepared, and proactive is vital to protect healthcare organizations from cyberattacks. Healthcare CIOs need to invest in security tools, train staff in cyber hygiene practices, and update policies and procedures for remote workers. While there are no guarantees when it comes to cyberattacks, the more protection you can place around your organization, the less damage a hacker can cause.

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