Will Your Healthcare IT Company Be Prepared to Meet a Radically New Tomorrow?

Healthcare technology companies must soon decide how to address an industry increasingly demanding a more market driven approach. According to Healthcare IT News, consumerism is one of the top interoperability trends of 2020. The rise of consumerism requires a hard look at how planned obsolescence and platform modernization fits into product roadmaps. With so many healthcare companies using platforms built for business approaches that may be decades old, are healthcare technology companies prepared to keep up with the increasing rate of change demanded by a new generation of leaders, purchasers and patients alike?

Consumerism in the healthcare industry is happening and is perhaps inevitable to stem rising demands to lower costs and provide patient-centric care. Without a significant upgrade that implements a modern healthcare technology stack (an upgrade that is a critical step towards interoperability), it will be increasingly more difficult for some to keep up with these trends. In an article written on CIO.com, a leading platform for CIOs and business technology executives, notes that an outdated system can be a business liability and detrimental to your ability to scale.

As the industry transitions to more consumer-facing products, product leaders are faced with the challenges of migrating to a new technology platform and how to seamlessly apply strategies like planned obsolescence into their design and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) processes. This can be a tough transition for companies whose product portfolio is comprised of bulky, legacy products built many years ago with technology and ideas available during that period. This older technology is today an inflexible tech stack- but yet accounts for 90% of their Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR).

“Be nimble or move fast and break things.”

How can a head of product ‘be nimble’ to address a rapidly changing industry when she has a 20 year old legacy product built in COBOL (yes, it’s a real thing that still exists!), with 20 years of undocumented business workflow built into the source code that is installed in a leading Integrated Delivery Network (IDN) essential to its operating procedures? It’s impossible to do successfully. If something breaks, it could have material impact to the IDN financially, or more importantly to patients’ care.

These are the scenarios that we are now facing in the ever-evolving world of healthcare technology. As we approach the shift to consumerism, we need to help our product leaders think through product modernization initiatives, which will enable implementing planned obsolescence into their product roadmap so your organization can prepare itself for tomorrow. Here are a few things to consider when transitioning to a modernized platform and incorporating planned obsolescence into your PLM:

Determine your ideal future state by talking to your customers!

What does true north look like for your product, as it relates specifically to your market and your client? As you begin to make this assessment, you should also establish your table’s stakes for the transition to the new platform. Start with questions like:

  • What product features must make the transition to the new platform?
  • What new feature and/or workflow can we add to make the transition to the new platform more compelling for your clients?

It is crucial to make a thorough and systematic assessment of your product portfolio, technology and its dependencies to uncover the potential issues that may occur in the future.

Define success, know how to measure it and measure it!

When starting anything, it’s best to define what the end-state looks like using detailed metrics that describe success.  Build in ways to measure along the way to track processes or find possible deviations from plan.  Taking the time to do this at the beginning will help ensure a steady process toward your goals and give stakeholders evidence that eventually we’ll be successful.

Spending time with your customers determines how they are currently using the product, what features they “wish” the product had and which features they are no longer using. This initial technology, feature assessment and customer feedback will help establish the baseline for your product requirements.

Take a look under the hood

Once you have a working set of future state product requirements, in partnership with the head of technology, make sure to select a proven technology stack. Selecting the right technology enables implementing your reliable and efficient product.

Determine Cost – Both Hard and Opportunity Cost

Be sure to determine your cost to make the transition. Costs associated with making this transition will include items such as security, maintenance & support, operational, personal and possibly running and supporting two platforms for a duration of time. However, one of the most important cost estimations is the opportunity cost of not modernizing your platform. Customer attrition, the loss of market share, and the challenge of recruiting and retaining top tier talent should all be factored into your cost equation.

Personnel Assessment

Does your current team have the skill set to make this transition? This is often one of the challenges a product leader has to determine when starting down the path of modernizing their platform. Just as important is to ensure you retain the members of your team who have the workflows (all 1000 random one-off quick fixes that were never documented) in their head or old notebook. These are the quirks that will convince legacy clients to happily make the transition to the new platform.

Build a team to make the transition

Resource augmentation for a project of this size is always advisable. Bringing in additional staff to assist with the transition will increase speed to market and enable current resources to maintain the current product roadmap. Moreover, the staff will have a deep but narrow understanding of your specific project needs. Having a fresh set of eyes will help identify potential challenges others may overlook as well as save time by implementing proven techniques to shorten the life cycle.

On a final note, it is important to remember that it will take more than a few weeks to implement a new solution that took a group of engineers’ years to create. Throughout this process you will be able to quickly establish your minimum viable product (MVP – version 1.0) of the new platform and weave in your planned obsolescence strategy. That strategy will influence your iteration cadence to incorporate new features and sunset old. More importantly, you can finesse your go-to market strategy by including a platform that can quickly turn features on and off, creating product segmentations to open the door for additional wallet share from your client base, and acting as a differentiator to increase market share.

Here’s to moving fast (and slow) and breaking things!

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