Without the adoption of innovation virtually no business will be able to survive, and even in healthcare it will become increasingly difficult to get by with “business as usual”, just by optimizing the old systems and processes.
Yet once an organization has decided to invest time and staff and money into innovation, the question is: Where to start?
Over the past 11 years, the venture capital industry has invested almost $100B (yes, one-hundred billion dollars) into digital health. Aside from startups creating their own care delivery services, there are now hundreds of innovative digital health solutions waiting to be integrated by the current healthcare delivery organizations.
Which again brings up the question: Where to start?
Problem-Driven Solution Selection
In my last article on “Innovation in Healthcare” I focused on the overall theme of accelerating innovation adoption in healthcare. The simple process for innovation adoption includes 4 steps:
- Define the Problem.
- Discover the Innovation.
- Develop the Integration.
- Deploy the Solution.
This is very different from how most organizations approach innovation selection. Usually it’s “the tail wagging the dog”: a cool idea, a seemingly valuable solution, a buzzword pleaser (like “AI”), or a super nice sales person with a very compelling value proposition.
But in mature organizations, time and money are actually not resources, but priorities. As the saying goes, “you always have time for the things you put first”. And I’ve often found that “if there’s value to be had, there’s money to be found.”
So if the selection of digital innovation cannot be simply based on its “sex appeal”, the first challenge becomes: How do you prioritize?
As the process above describes, the first task is to actually identify and describe the urgent, pervasive, costly problem that a solution needs to address. The problem should arise from the organization’s strategic plan and describe a disconnect between the current reality and the desired future, described in one or more strategic objectives.
The first level of prioritization thus occurs in the prioritization of problems that the organization aims to solve. Without a clear definition of the problem and a clear understanding of its relative priority to other problems, regardless of the brilliance of the digital health innovation, the solution will most likely fail.
The 3 Lenses of Digital Health Innovation Value
Over the years, I’ve worked with healthcare organizations to decide which telehealth services to put on their telehealth roadmap and in what order. The same principles of selection and prioritization apply to digital health innovation, albeit on a more diverse scale.