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Will You be a Healthcare Cloud Change Management Success Story, or a Casualty?

Scott Whyte, Chief Strategy Officer


by Scott Whyte
Chief Strategy Officer
ClearDATA


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Healthcare and Life Sciences are in the midst of sweeping and accelerating  digital transformation and change management. From reimbursement models, care delivery venues, digital therapies, consumer engagement, mega-M&A and enabling technologies (on-premise legacy moving to the public cloud-powered solutions), we as health care leaders are both driving and surviving some of the biggest changes in our careers.

Of course, not all of these digital transformation efforts will succeed. In fact, there’s probably never been a better time to bring in expert help because according to McKinsey and Company, 70% of all change management initiatives fail. There are many reasons for that and I’m going to get into a few of the top reasons in this post.

I’ve been asked to apply our health and life sciences cloud consulting expertise to salvage faltering attempts at change management around cloud adoption and expansion. While the reasons for the challenges vary, they often center around one of three things: poor or incomplete planning and alignment; poor technical, security and compliance requirements; or uncertainty about how to scale to meet business, clinical, and other stakeholder demands.

While every consulting situation I walk into is unique, just as each of us has our unique organizational goals and objectives, there are a few overarching things to consider based on where you are with your change management and cloud journey.

Planning

When your leadership team commits to cloud it is going to benefit your entire organization to take a moment and align with strategic goals. You likely don’t want to just ‘lift and shift’ all your existing infrastructure – it may not be necessary, efficient, or cost effective. You’ll want to take a look at which areas of your business would benefit most, or first, by being on cloud. You’ll want to explore strategies, objectives and key results (OKRs), financial metrics, and organizational readiness - especially for the users of the applications. If you haven’t conducted an organizational readiness assessment, it’s time. Or it’s time to find a third party who can do it for you. For example, you may discover an application is technically a good fit though the users have a business unit re-organization or application upgrade planned.

Another important aspect of the planning stage is getting agreement internally on what projects to prioritize and making sure all stakeholders have buy-in, so everyone is pulling the project in the same direction with the same expectations. Often, change management initiatives fail because of unclear goals or lack of organizational-wide commitment and alignment around the beneficial outcome of the projects being prioritized. For example, is the goal of the cloud move digital innovation; taking advantage of cloud services like AI or NLP; scaling for new markets and demand; or cost reduction? If you’ve ever watched a sculling crew, think of it that way: the organization that rows together grows together. Is your organization aligned on your goals and directions for cloud? Are you rowing in unison?

Technical, Security, and Compliance Requirements

You can have a great plan, but when you go to build against that plan, issues will still come up. You need to dig deep into the application’s operating system, network, compute, storage and other infrastructure requirements. With that information, you can map to the public cloud services. For so many health and life sciences applications that are compliance sensitive (HIPAA, GxP, GDPR), the process of mapping to cloud services requires caution. Part of the benefit of the clouds are they continuously improve, update and add services and features – and some of those updates change the state of compliance. In addition, many cloud services are HIPAA eligible, but that doesn’t mean they are HIPAA compliant out of the box  Given this complexity, you can see the benefit of having a third party health cloud expert support that understand both compliance and architecting cloud solutions can save you time and money in the end. Part of the benefit of the cloud is ‘infrastructure as software’ which allows for much greater automation. Automation is key to providing key cloud benefit of faster system deployment and scaling. In addition, cloud automation can eliminate a lot of error that stems from humans and manually (and repeatedly) configuring items.

You may also choose more than one public cloud provider which means you’ll have to follow the above steps for each cloud provider. Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Microsoft Azure, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) all provide powerful platforms for digital transformation in healthcare. You may opt for one or you may go multi-cloud. Setting it up correctly and keeping it running within HIPAA, GDPR or GxP guidelines will be critical to protecting your organization and delivering success to the business and clinical users.

Scaling

 Congratulations – you’ve made it to the cloud and deployed successfully! You’re seeing the benefits of agility and the cost benefits of spinning up and spinning down compute resources quickly. Now you’re ready to go from placing a few, narrowly deployed workloads in the cloud to scaling those workloads to more users, transactions and geographies; and, moving far more applications including some cloud-first apps built in the cloud from the beginning. Leaders across healthcare are taking this path. It’s important to sequence the applications with criteria such as cloud readiness of application, integration with other applications, age of current hardware, ability to take advantage of cloud services, and the cost to move and maintain on the cloud.  With that sequencing spread over time, you can forecast your legacy infrastructure savings and your new cloud spend.

The technical cloud success you’ve planned can end in failure if the people, processes, and supporting technologies are not aligned.

Have you planned your resources for not only today, but tomorrow? IT processes (e.g., configuration management, change management, service requests, incident management) typically require significant change as you grow in the cloud.  Those IT processes are supported by people you’ll need to educate and communicate with about the benefits of the changes, and then involve them in process solution designs. In addition to the people, the technologies that support IT processes likely need to be designed, tested and implemented to support the cloud.  Even good change can be stressful to an organization if all the moving parts aren’t implemented thoughtfully. Having a solid plan for your organization will help you navigate the new waters of cloud-enabled tools like machine learning, AI, and NLP.

Make the Most of the Cloud’s Potential

The good news is, the cloud is fast, agile and scalable. You can grow your business efficiently and effectively and speed your time to market though readiness and planning are a critical ingredient in your ultimate success. If you have the resources in house to do this, do so before you get out in front of your skis. If you don’t, consider contacting ClearDATA for cloud professional services that will you help you plan, deploy and scale on any public cloud. Healthcare and life sciences are experiencing digital transformation. Be sure your cloud change management makes you a success story in that transformation. We’ll meet you where you are on your cloud journey and help you at each step of the way.

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