Frankfurt, October 2018, and more than 800 attendees are in the auditorium at the start of ServiceNow’s one day summit event. While the summit wasn’t specifically billed as a healthcare event, healthcare is a target market when one considers the customer user stories showcased.
Is ServiceNow relevant in the healthcare industry? It is an important question for this healthcare analyst. Why? For one, the summit audience did little to reflect the diversity of people that I often see at many of the healthcare focused events that I regularly attend where ICT (Information and Communication Technology) support and implementation is a core discussion point.
In truth, ServiceNow is not a stranger to the world of healthcare, especially in the US. In Europe, Geneva’s University Hospital (Hôpiteaux Universitaires Genève (HUG)), the Kantonalspital Aarau and Siemens Healthineers are among its clients. For sure, ServiceNow is not a common household name in the healthcare industry. But this is a reality that belies the company’s healthcare credentials and relevant value proposition.
Technology is … when life becomes easier
A point that rings very true when Dave Wright, Chief Innovation Officer at ServiceNow, asks: “Why do many have a better experience with technology outside of work than inside work?” This couldn’t be more accurately reflected than in healthcare, where patients often have a hard time understanding why their experience as a consumer with regards to the ease of accessing services and information is so markedly different than it is when interacting with healthcare institutions. This statement is more valid in those countries that are slower in the adoption of healthcare-IT. Germany being one of them.
Digital transformation relies on people, processes and perceived value
Wright talks about how ServiceNow’s founder, Fred Luddy, wanted to change those situations where engaging unsatisfactorily with company software creates a lot of pain. And, as one might expect, Luddy derives joy from the fact that the company’s products are helping to make users’ lives easier, and Wright emphasises this point “This is our purpose and our go-forward vison, we want to keep businesses going and help them to drive the digital transformation journey”.
And this is also the journey many healthcare institutions around the globe have embarked upon to address some of the pressing challenges they face- namely:
- an aging population
- a chronic lack of funding
- thrive for clinical excellence and an effective use of resources
- a shift from transaction-based to outcome-based reimbursement as well as from curing to prevention of sicknesses
- a growing need for a closer cooperation between the different players in the expanding healthcare ecosystem that is counteracted by those processes and workflows that are not connected or aligned and cause fragmentation in the healthcare system
- deriving better insights into the causes of wellbeing and sickness from data
- informed patients who want to be more involved in their own wellbeing and care
However, as CIC has consistently found in its research, digital transformation comes with its own set of challenges: How best to navigate it? How to make it fit around the way people work and not the other way around? How not to have technology getting in the way between a patient and a care giver or among co-workers, but instead have it facilitate those encounters and foster better communication and collaboration?
Many doctors are frustrated with fulfilling the time-consuming demands of entering the required information into an electronic health record system while seeing a patient, as this can impede the actual patient encounter. But how to get around this since patient data and information clearly needs to be captured at the source?
Fundamentally, it is about how technology can create a user-friendly encounter with a beneficial outcome. Crucially, this is more about ‘people, processes and perceived value’, rather than the jaded mantra of ‘people, processes and technology’.
Outcome is what truly matters
“Fred [Luddy] doesn’t mention IT, just how ServiceNow changes the way people work by linking all business units together”, Wright explains. So there is no need to mention the Technology-word, only what it enables you to do: Namely building a strong relationship with your customers, which could be internal as in the case of fellow-employees or external as in the case of patients.
As the level of cooperation between healthcare institutions is growing, so does the complexity of the transactions required to ensure a timely and safe flow of patient-relevant information. Ease of use in combination with reliability and security is paramount for the healthcare world. If ServiceNow can bring this to the healthcare, it would be a “pain killer” for those in charge of IT.
Making the world of work, work better for people
The use case of medical device company Siemens Healthineers at the summit proved that an enhanced customer experience can be achieved in the face of complexity and regulatory and organisational requirements.
Jochen Hostalka, Head of IT for the Customer Service and Enterprise Service at Siemens Healthineers, shared the experience of implementing a central platform of engagement for its customer service organisation (with the help of Accenture) based on ServiceNow technology. “Doctors want to have everything at their fingertips”, explains Hostalka. With the goal of providing its customers with a modern experience, the company was looking for a solution that brings all processes together under one system of engagement, without the need to replace existing systems. On top of this, it needed to be fast, agile and innovative. Hostalka is pleased with the outcome so far – ”We found a way of changing the perception of IT. More smiles for IT and more interactions with IT”. The aim is to eventually have all customers on that one platform.
This is a strong story that is worth being told in more detail as it addresses many of the pressure points in healthcare. More importantly, it showcases succinctly the relevance of ServiceNow’s capabilities for the healthcare sector and the value its portfolio can offer. Telling it well is just the kind of ‘Talking the Talk’ that ServiceNow needs to deliver if it is to achieve its goals of a more market visible healthcare profile.