By Charles Holive, managing director, Sisense.
The big data revolution has made today’s healthcare industry a vibrant hub of innovation in data, analytics, and artificial intelligence. Recent decades have brought tremendous advances in not only the science of clinical and medical services, but also in the business strategy powering those services.
Across the industry, digital pioneers are leveraging data to create new efficiencies, solutions, and breakthrough treatments. However, just as the industry offers endless examples of incredible transformation, so too does it offer endless case studies in untapped potential.
Some roadblocks to healthcare data innovation in the healthcare industry are unavoidable: Decades’ worth of legacy and proprietary systems have made modernization and integration efforts enormously challenging. Strict regulations mean that the barrier to entry for new technologies and processes are much higher than in other industries. Additionally, many healthcare organizations face governance challenges spurred by years of continuous disruption—making it even harder to bring innovative ideas to fruition.
However, these obstacles have not stopped healthcare data innovation; they’ve merely slowed the pace of change. Generally, when an organization has the resources, competencies, and will to innovate, the only thing that can thwart those intentions is an inability to build effective business data strategy.
Often, that lack of ability stems from a fundamental misconception about innovation itself—a case of mistaken identity that confuses innovation for inspiration. When this misconception flourishes, organizations can fall into a state of institutional inertia, forever waiting for the next big idea to appear out of thin air.
These organizations fail to understand that innovation is a process, not some mysterious phenomenon, and that they can build concrete business strategies with repeatable procedures designed to continually drive the formulation of breakthrough ideas. Fortunately, organizations need only three core ingredients to build an effective business data strategy that fosters innovation.
- Fast Iteration
It’s been said, but it bears repeating: Innovation is a process. And when it comes to business innovation, an iterative process allows for the greatest amount of flexibility and experimentation in concepting and product development. Healthcare organizations who wish to develop new applications and revenue streams leveraging their data must create internal systems that allow for fresh ideas to be iterated upon at pace and at scale.
To do so, it is vital that these organizations drastically lower the cost to try. If, over the course of a year, the “cost to try” is 10 months of submissions, review, and approvals, then your organization will try one thing that year. If the cost to try is shortened to one week, then your organization will likely try 52 things that year. The more your organization is able to try new ideas, and iterate upon those ideas, the faster your organization will innovate.
One powerful tool helping organizations build fast iteration into their processes is the use of digital twins—detailed digital models of physical objects and processes that allow for big ideas to be tested at low cost.
Researchers at Oklahoma State University’s Computational Biofluidics and Biomechanics Laboratory have used digital twin models to optimize the delivery efficiency of aerosol medications. At the systems level, consultancy GE Healthcare recently teamed with Tampa General Hospital to launch the CareComm clinical command center, which leverages a digital twin of the hospital to predict patient needs and lower costs. Models like these significantly reduce the cost to try for innovative ideas leveraging patient data.