The Talent Blueprint Through a Digital Lens

Joe Fournier

Advisory Board Chairman and Consultant

In his book, The Singularity is Near, Ray Kurzweil notes "The future is widely misunderstood. Our forebears expected it to be pretty much like their present, which had been pretty much like their past." As forward-thinking health care providers reimagine the way they deliver care and service to patients in the future, emphasis is placed on individual and community health over utilization of services. One leader who imagines a different future is Apple CEO Tim Cook. When JPMorgan's annual health care conference kicked off the new year, Cook revealed news that prevents the company from being misunderstood. During an interview with Jim Cramer, host of CNBC's Mad Money, Cook noted that, "I believe, if you zoom out into the future, and you look back, and you ask the question, "What was Apple's greatest contribution to mankind?" it will be about health."

Investment in digital health startups soared to record highs in 2018. Companies such as Peloton, 23andMe, ZocDoc and Proteus Digital Health, all valued at over $1.5 billion, are leading in the digital health arena. To align with health care providers that are focusing on quality and valued based care and reimbursement, these and other digital health startups are developing technology to enable better clinical outcomes for patients. In the coming years, digital health technology, artificial intelligence and more robust analytics will continue to be integrated into patient care and support services in surprising ways.

Leading in the Digital Health Era

In addition to a relentless focus on providing outstanding safe and affordable care to their patients and communities, health care leaders and their organizations must address changing market conditions and consumer preferences while integrating technology into care and service delivery. Leaders must lead their organizations through unprecedented change while adopting a digital mindset and ensuring their people have the skills and expertise to use sophisticated systems to the fullest.

87% of respondents to RockHealth's 2017 national consumer survey indicated that they had adopted at least one digital health tool such as a wearable device, telemedicine or online provider review, which means patients are well along the path to integrate technology into their health and wellness practices. Now, they expect providers to do the same. Thus, it is imperative that health care leaders build additional competencies into their leadership repertoire. Undeniably, companies are led by people--and their success is predicated on outstanding leadership now more than ever. Namely,

1. Health care leaders must now be able to incorporate digital health technology and tools into their organization's top-line strategy to bring health to their patients and communities. This includes looking beyond the four walls of their organizations to partner with digital health companies to provide health to their patients and communities.

2. Health care leaders must now know how to integrate digital technology and tools into community health and patient care delivery models. Technology can improve care for patients and communities—it is not a replacement for caregivers. Health care will always be a people business—and the connection between caregivers and patients is and will always be at the center.

3. Health care leaders must now know how to embrace technology to improve patient experience and the work of direct and indirect caregivers. As leaders and caregivers seek to improve the patient experience, many technologies such as telehealth and those that connect to electronical health records, patient and customer billing and portals and health records that engage caregivers, patients and customers are emerging. Integrating these technologies into throughout the continuum care can improve patient and customer engagement and experience. Moreover, it will improve the work for caregivers who care for patient directly and those that support them.

4. Health care leaders must now understand how digital health will change the way caregivers work to deliver a comprehensive patient and customer experience. New technologies have been changing the way care is delivered to patients for years. Technology is already influencing the way we deliver care—from artificial intelligence to robotics, virtual reality to human genetics. Health related technology will grow exponentially for the foreseeable future. That is to say that the amount of technology and its impact will increase at a constantly growing rate. The more that leaders can anticipate this trend, the better they can prepare for their organizations to thrive.

A Call to Action for Human Resources

Human Resources has an unprecedented opportunity to lead their organizations in preparing people to operate effectively in an increasingly digital environment. Chief Human Resources Officers and their teams must define the talent needs of their organizations for today and tomorrow through their talent blueprints. Areas of impact include:

Workforce Planning

Human Resources must architect the plans to balance the labor supply and demand through a technology lens in order to direct the organization's talent actions. The objective is to ensure that the right people are onboard in the right positions with the right technology to make the greatest impact possible.

Organizational Design

As providers implement digital health technology and tools into care processes and support services, there will be dramatic change in processes, structures and positions. For sure, this will involve much more than redrawing the boxes and lines on an organizational chart. The mission of the institution viewed through a digital lens will govern the work and operating structure.

Education and Development

Going forward, the true purpose of learning and career education programs will be development of contemporary professional skills. The impact of workforce training will be measured under new standards. Curriculum will go far beyond the use of electronic medical records and wearable technology to help drive continuous improvement processes and promote innovation to improve the health of the public

By emphasizing individual and community health over utilization of services, new markets and product innovation are developing rapidly. What actions are you and your leadership team taking to improve the digital IQ of your institution? Does your talent blueprint account for increased technology skills across all roles? Let's exchange ideas about how human resources is tackling these questions at your organization. Free to email me with your thoughts and comments at