The healthcare industry is constantly evolving, and changes have never come as rapidly as they are right now. Conga’s Chief Marketing Officer Randy Littleson recently sat down with Werner Boeing, CEO at digital healthcare advisory firm evisory, to talk about the transformation challenges facing companies in the healthcare space. Following are some key takeaways from their discussion.
Cross-industry experience can help drive transformation
Randy: People often say that because healthcare is so unique, sources of transformation that work in other industries aren’t as effective in healthcare. After working in a number of industries, what’s your take on this?
“In my experience, every industry has similar problems and similar opportunities. But the time horizons for digital transformation are different in different industries,” Werner says. "For example, the automotive industry had their digital revolution earlier, and they had to manage that in order to stay competitive. Pharmaceutical companies, on the other hand, were successful for a long time with a traditional approach, but eventually, they had to look to other industries to find new ways of doing things. "
The challenge of measuring healthcare outcomes
Randy: As healthcare systems are transforming, they’re becoming more outcome-oriented and patient-centric. What does that mean in terms of the capabilities that are needed to empower transformation? And where are the biggest gaps?
“That’s’ a very important question. Everyone agrees on the move to patient-centered care that targets the individual and provides the help they need,” Werner answers. "We also need to measure its efficacy, and reward outcome rather than input. But agreeing on what we all want is the easy part."
The capabilities of measuring outcome in a healthcare setting are complex, exactly because of our individuality. If you get treatment, it’s still your choice whether to exercise or not, whether to eat well or not. There are many other elements influencing healthcare outcomes that make it very difficult to measure and invest in the right therapy or service.
Werner continues, “What we need are data capabilities and the ability to model, and more of a B2B mindset. We need to think about how to structure contracts with agreed-upon KPIs that can be used to measure outcomes. And how do we monitor progress toward those KPIs? We need to move away from the yearly meetings where we talk about how much product you’ve delivered and instead create an ongoing engagement focused on outcomes."
Contract flexibility enables greater collaboration
Randy: In many industries, the role of ecosystems is becoming more important. That seems true for healthcare, as well. What does that mean for the types of deals that are required?
“Like many industries, we are moving from a product-centric view into associated services,” Werner responds. “You start out trying to do everything yourself, but you quickly learn that in order to address customer needs, you need a broader spectrum of capabilities than you can provide in a single portfolio.”
For example, in healthcare drugs are needed for a variety of usages from pain management to treatment. These need to be developed, but they also need to be delivered to patients and administered. You may need a drug delivery system, and an algorithm to define doses. We might need to look dynamically at the body’s response and adjust doses of a given therapy. All of this requires different parties to come together.
“It’s difficult to bring this together contractually, but even beyond the legalities, it’s challenging to monitor what’s happening on the operational side,” Werner continued.
The ecosystem can be viewed as a metaphor for our need to solve more complex problems and bring different people together, both legally and commercially. Contracts shouldn’t limit our ability to enable collaborations. We need to create environments with flexible contracting that can easily adjust as needed.
Digital solutions enhance customer experience
Randy asks: Healthcare processes are complex, and the addition of digital solutions seems to actually increase the complexity. How does this impact the customer experience? Is there still a front- and back-office with data flowing between them?
“The role of customer experience in this case is to make the internal value chain of an organization transparent,” said Werner.
The customer shouldn’t be aware about the role or differences between the front- and back-office. The division between those business and support functions should be invisible. Digital solutions enable rich interactions between front- and back-office, and between B2B partners, to manage product consumption, service delivery, contracting, invoicing, and more. All of that requires deep customer centricity—not just when you want to win a new customer, but in the day-to-day details.
True customer centricity requires an “altruistic data culture”
Randy: Customer centricity starts and ends with reliable data. In a world of omnichannel, hybrid solutions built on physical products and information services, this gets really complicated. How do you manage organizations and individuals across the ecosystem to make this a reality?
“I think this is one of the “Holy Grail” questions in our industry, and the answer starts with an altruistic data culture,” said Werner. “What I mean by that is, regardless of what role you play and whether you benefit directly, every individual should be motivated to maintain accurate data, add to it, characterize the context, and teach other people the value of the data. This kind of altruistic behavior is highly desired but rarely found, so we need to help people understand this. "
Training is one element, but we also need stories that bring the importance of data and the consequences of unreliable datasets to life—not just for experts and data guys. Top leadership should demonstrate they really care about this, maybe C-level executives who actually own some component of data and talk openly about this altruistic data culture. But customer centricity cannot be achieved if we don’t collectively want to understand the customer.
No single system should drive critical decisions
Randy: You’ve had a lot of experience working with multiple systems. Would you rather trust the data in the ERP or CRM system to build a commercial strategy—for example, customer segmentation?
Werner says, “Based on my decades of experience, I would say that systems are only as good as the people and the cultures that feed into them.”
It’s not only about the sophistication of the system, because each one has a different focus. Operationally, the ERP system gives you a very precise picture of what has happened and what’s happening now, but it’s a very conservative view. On the CRM side, things tend to be a lot more future-oriented and optimistic, because sales teams rely on the system for prospecting and forecasting future sales.
One must look at both the past and the future, with different perspectives and levels of detail—and no single system or approach will provide that. It's important to use any data as proof points with input from the system, but ultimately it comes down to speaking with the right people. Decision-making shouldn’t lie with the system, it should be with competent people who can have meaningful discussions because customer segmentation is a key element to commercial success.
To learn more and get first-hand insights, watch the full video with Werner Boeing and Conga CMO Randy Littleson as they discuss digital transformations in the healthcare space.
This blog post is an abbreviated version of the video that's been condensed and edited for readability.