3 Keys to Unlock Healthcare’s Digital Front Door

3 Keys to Unlock Healthcare’s Digital Front Door

The digital front door has become the common name in the healthcare industry for a mobile website or application that unifies the patient experience and connects patients to care across the continuum.  

In short, a digital front door connects and scales the virtual care journey to give patients what they need, when they need it. 

The trend toward self-service in healthcare was already underway when COVID hit, and the pandemic sharply accelerated the demand for digital access to healthcare information. Appointment scheduling is one important aspect of a digital front door experience, and studies find that 40% of appointments are booked after business hours, and 67% of patients prefer online booking. Further, $150 billion annually is estimated as the annual loss from missed medical appointments. (source

Some of our company’s earliest and most enduring clients have been healthcare organizations, and we’ve noticed three keys to success when developing and deploying a digital front door.  

Key to success: Get the right stakeholders involved 

“This is more than a digital shift – the shift to a digital front door requires a culture shift within the organization,” says Yuri Brigance, Valence’s director of software engineering. 

Experience has taught us that having the right people in the room can make all the difference in the success or failure of a major initiative. Especially considering the role that change management plays here – People don’t resist change, they resist being changed. So you need to engage stakeholders from all impacted groups, from frontline workers to back-office operations. This will improve requirements documentation, roadmap planning, and buy-in as the work rolls out. 

 Key to success: Users Drive the Design Strategy 

“While a digital front door is a technology solution, it’s ultimately about humanizing the patient experience,” says Sam To, designer at Valence. 

In the case of a digital front door, the users may be patients, families of patients, or healthcare providers. In nearly all scenarios, people value products that are easy to use, simple to set up, and have a logical progression. This is especially true in a healthcare situation, which may be hypercharged by personal and situational stressors.  

Equitable design should be at the forefront of design decisions because the healthcare organization needs to design for a wide array of users and needs. You can read more about our approach to equitable design here

The design phase of the digital front door project should include user interviews, feedback sessions, prototyping, and more. Giving the UX design team access to users early in the process can help to identify the best-case rollout strategy, reveal opportunities to differentiate from competitors, and deliver precisely the right content to users when they need it – all leading to better patient satisfaction scores. 

Key to success: Develop a feature roadmap and strategy for rolling out updates 

“When embarking on a digital effort in healthcare, it’s important to start by understanding which changes you need to see in the organization. Are you pursuing improved patient satisfaction scores? Physician satisfaction? ED/Urgent Care wait times? Quality and safety scores? Each area targeted for improvement may influence priorities differently,” says Malia Jacobson, healthcare content strategist at Valence. 

Many healthcare providers are leaning into digital solutions to address patient satisfaction, reduce service demand, and reduce administrative overhead. In addition to standard features of a digital front door experience, providers should consider designing for experiences such as:  

  • Bill pay 
  • Self-scheduling and care coordination 
  • Provider communication 
  • Information libraries 
  • Find a provider 
  • Imaging library 
  • Patient outreach 
  • Capacity management 
  • Census management 
  • Forecasting 
  • Infectious disease tracking 
  • Discharge planning 
  • Privacy and security to safeguard patient data 
  • Strategies to increase adoption, such as gamification and push notifications 
  • Support for population health initiatives 
  • Analytics and insights to derive more value from data 
  • AI features, such as chatbots, to reduce clinical burden and improve patient flow 
  • Support for healthcare information exchange in compliance with FHIR standards and best practices. 

It’s important to understand how these features interplay as part of a big picture roadmap with a rollout timeline and strategy. You don’t have to release everything at one time to be successful, and adding features as the platform develops and collects user feedback will future-proof the effort. 

In closing, healthcare has always been heavily impacted by technology, but the patient experience lagged behind other healthcare innovations. That is changing. 

Additional Resources: 

Three Ways We Bring a Learning Culture to Our Business

Three Ways We Bring a Learning Culture to Our Business

Learning Culture

One reason that Valence consistently is awarded Best Place to Work by the Business Journal is because we are all about a Learning Culture. A Learning Culture is rooted in a growth mindset where people want to learn and to apply what they have learned to help their organization.

Our team weaves together consulting, design, and engineering practices while staying alert to new technologies and innovations, while also becoming experts in our clients’ industries, business units, and market trends.

That’s a lot to learn.

And rather than being intimidated by all the things we have yet to learn, we encourage our people to stay open and curious. Learning is a core value here, and it’s a key to our company’s success.

“One thing I love about this company is that it’s a learning place. I always feel comfortable calling our designers, architects, and engineers so I can tap their expertise and better understand what matters most. They always make the time and encourage me to ask questions, and it helps me feel confident in my role,” Angela Kaiser, senior project manager.

We leverage each other’s knowledge, and as part of MajorKey, we are exploring exciting ways to broaden our educational platform, especially since we are now a global business with learners and teachers in the US, India, and Argentina.

“I love being a part of the learning culture and I love that I have the freedom to learn, admit what I don’t know, and dig into what I want to know. Valence is a great place for that,” says Renee Christenson, senior project manager at Valence.  Renee also leads up the Valence Lunch and Learn program!

Learning happens formally and informally here, whether it comes through moments in spontaneous conversations, as part of a scheduled deep dive with a colleague, at one of our monthly lunch and learn meetings, at a conference, or through collaboration with clients and partners.

Senior Content Writer, Malia Jacobson says, “I have a quote by author Annie Dillard framed in my office. The final lines are ‘Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.’ It reminds me that it’s not enough to continually develop new knowledge in our fields—we also need to share what we’re learning. I’ve learned so much from my Valence team members and colleagues, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to share, engage, and pay it forward.”  

A scene from Malia’s office

Here are three tips to bring a learning culture into your company:

  1. A flat structure will encourage people to ask questions and show their curiosity.

We need each other’s knowledge, and with a flat organizational structure, anyone can share what they’ve learned and what they are passionate about with confidence.

Lunch and learn sessions offer a formalized process with an informal interaction, which helps people to feel comfortable presenting and attending. People respect each other and lead with kindness and respect, so whether you are a presenter with a bit of stage fright, or an attendee nervous to ask a question, everyone is welcome and respected.  

2. Invest resources into your Learning Culture and put someone in charge of it.

Valence runs a monthly Lunch and Learn program, which is managed a senior project manager who collaborates with our People team. The Lunch and Learn program typically requires about 4 hours of management time each month.

When a team member delivers a Lunch and Learn presentation, they typically spend up to 40 hours putting the content together, rehearsing, and preparing to present it over several weeks.

The ad hoc requests for education and cross-team sharing are harder to measure, but it’s safe to say that subject matter experts share and seek expertise as part of their work.

We should mention a secondary culture benefit when your company prioritizes learning and teaching, which is that it creates new avenues for employees to know each other and build meaningful relationships, which are crucial for mental health and workplace satisfaction (and harder to come by in remote work situations.)

3. Teach and learn about more than technical topics.

Naturally our monthly Lunch and Learn program covers topics like Artificial Intelligence, 5G, and data governance; but it has also covers topics like Crossfit, perfecting your LinkedIn profile, and making the most of video conferencing. Our upcoming lunch and learn schedule covers topics as varying as DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) and the evolution of digital content?

Showcase your Learning Culture by creating a platform for employees to share their passions.

By operating like a campus-less campus, everyone is a student, and everyone is a teacher so we can all come together around learning.

“People are encouraged to share their knowledge and be an educator for the company, which is why you never know what you can learn here,” said Valence President, Jim Darrin.

If you are a knowledge seeker, you’ve got a growth mindset, and you love a learning culture, check out our careers page! At Valence, you might find a career where you can tackle challenges, learn, grow, and develop professionally!

Additional Resources:

Kopius Careers Page

Effective Digital Transformation

Effective Digital Transformation

The phrase Digital Transformation is commonly used today, referring to everything from an overhaul of a legacy system to leveraging online systems to engage customers. As champions of digital transformation, our team  believes in the power of smartly planned and efficiently executed digital transformations to enhance business strategy; we believe that effective digital transformation is a cornerstone of business, and it is imperative that individuals understand the definition, potential impact, and processes that lead to success.

[ Digitization ←> Digitization ←> Digital Transformation ] + People

Effective Digital Transformation: How do we think about it?

Effective digital transformation puts business strategy ahead of digital strategy, whilst interweaving the two. Successful digital transformation solves business problems by focusing on the customer — for example, by decreasing costs, or increasing value — and using technology solutions that cut through business functions, industries, processes to affect change. In short, technology is a means to an end.

Digital transformation may help reduce product costs, but what does that do for the business? It provides resources to be routed into other aspects of the business. Leverage those freed up resources to enhance the customer experience and you are left with improved margins and happier customers and an effective digital transformation.

Consider Amazon — a company that digitally transformed its business of book selling to a Big 4 technology company. Amazon leveraged digital transformation initiatives to change its supply chain and operational efficiency in order to provide a better customer experience. Their culture (the world-famous 14 Leadership Principles) and business strategy are interwoven to focus on the customer: Amazon Prime has some of the fastest delivery options in the market and Amazon Web Services provides some of the best cloud solutions for enterprises. They digitally transformed their business and now provide customers with digital solutions to digitally transform theirs. From their website: “Amazonians… share a common desire to always be learning and inventing on behalf of our customers.” Leverage culture and technology to improve customer experience; digitally transform the business to help the customer.

Digital Transformation contains components of digital strategy, the use of digitalization, as well as digitization efforts. These terms, often thrown around interchangeably, are in fact pieces of the larger puzzle rather than equal to the overall process. Digitization is the process of moving from analog to digital, pen and paper to Microsoft Excel. Digitalization, according to Gartner, speaks of the use of digital strategies, technologies, initiatives to tap into new business opportunities or change a business model. If anything, one leverages digitization to digitalize, and the overall transformation of a business from one to another, becomes digital transformation. The definitions are debated and often vague, as discussed by Jason Bloomberg in this Forbes article. It is important to remain consistent in thinking of digital transformation as the overarching umbrella of strategic digital initiatives to improve the business with the customer at the forefront.

Digital Transformation: Consider “The Process” towards success

What does Digital Transformation success entail? What does it look like?

As enterprises restructure their strategy to evolve amid a changing technological and economic landscape while centering around the customer, it is important to consider the process and what it takes to succeed.

Key Stages to Success

According to Keller and Price in Beyond Performance: How Great Organizations Build Ultimate Competitive Advantage, successful transformation involves a few key stages — from goal defining, to organizational assessment, to designing and initiating transformation and sustaining it. It is critical to understand where the enterprise is and where it wants to go — and it is critical to be consistent and practical.

Ensuring Success

to move forward with a transformation initiative, it is imperative to align Keller and Price’s stages with McKinsey’s 5 themes to a successful digital transformation, which involve digitization to prepare an enterprise for digitalization:

  • Having the right, digital-savvy leaders in place
  • Building capabilities for the workforce of the future
  • Empowering people to work in new ways
  • Giving day-to-day tools a digital upgrade
  • Communicating frequently via traditional and digital methods

Think about the Amazon example again — they didn’t just leverage digital solutions to overhaul their business; they leveraged cultural practices to ensure that Amazonians are driven towards the integration of technology and customer centricity. McKinsey’s themes encompass a similar outlook: empowerment, communications, capabilities, leadership — core cultural understandings that can support a digital transformation initiative.

At Valence, we focus heavily on thinking about the future. It is critical to be ever ready for tomorrow, whether it means continuous learning, or building systems and solutions to prepare for what is next. These stages and themes will ensure enterprises are thinking about the next step, focusing on being proactive rather than reactive. At this important juncture of the 21st century, where we have crossed into a new decade and face the challenge of economic reinvention due to a global pandemic, it matters how we use technology to transform our enterprises to meet changing customer needs.

In summary, as stated by Jim Darrin, CEO of Valence,

“No industry or company can ignore the importance or impact of Digital Transformation, and must embrace a digital strategy in order to evolve into the next generation.”

Do you think your business is ready for a digital transformation? We can help you with the journey. Contact us for more information.

Additional Resources:

The Issue Isn’t With Technology Consultants, It’s With the WRONG Technology Consultants

The Issue isn’t with Technology Consultants, It’s with the WRONG Technology Consultants

By Glen Lewis

When businesses embark on a digital transformation, they often need to bring in technology consultants. Choosing the right technology consultant is the first and potentially most important step in the journey.

In the March 13th Harvard Business Review article Digital Transformation Is Not About Technology,” the authors outlined “Five Key Lessons” that helped them lead their organizations through successful digital transformations. Lesson #2 stated:

Organizations that seek transformations…frequently bring in an army of outside consultants who tend to apply one-size-fits-all solutions in the name of “best practices.” …our…organizations [approach was] to rely instead on insiders — staff who have intimate knowledge about what works and what doesn’t in their daily operations” (Behnam Tabrizi, 2019).

Smart businesswoman sharing her ideas with her team during a meeting. Group of creative design professionals having a discussion while working on a new project.

I would offer that using technology consultants is not a poor idea — using the WRONG consultants is. In fact, using a technology consultant has distinct benefits.

After 12 years of working with change management consultants partnering with domestic and international clients, the good consultants that I have seen hold one truth sacred in their engagements — their clients have unique cultures, with unique issues, and require solutions tailored to their unique needs. While these consultants will reference analogous past experiences, it is to help encourage clients to share details (Harvey, 2018) by reassuring them that they are not the only ones suffering from similar issues (Adamson, 2011). That is about as far as the “one-size” mentality goes with good consultants. The good consultants, through consistent engagement of “insiders,” subsequently updates those initial analogies as they come to understand and appreciate their client’s culture, governance, change readiness, etc. This produces a new unique view of the client, their gaps, and potential solutions. Finally, if good consultants do recommend that their clients consider a best practice, it should service only as a starting point, because those practices should evolve into a solution meeting the client’s unique needs.

Technology consultants also bring important benefits often overlooked in change management such as enabling clients to continue to run/operate their businesses unencumbered by having to manage an enterprise change initiative. For example; a regional dialysis provider recently switched their electronic health record (EHRs) systems. While the CIO highlighted how he had participated in EHR transitions before, he, along with his PMO or IT, did not have the expertise to manage such a daunting endeavor. As a solution, they brought in a consultancy who partnered with the organization’s key “insiders” to build and manage the following: (1) the layers of schedules, (2) the change communication plans, (3) the EHR transition training plan for almost 1000 staff members who were scattered over 2000 square miles.

This allowed the dialysis provider’s staff to remain focused on operating their 15+ clinics. Their training department could continue to focus on serving current and new employees, meeting federal regulations and their PMO could continue implementing the HR and logistics projects already in motion. Finally, the public affairs department could continue focusing on community outreach communications.

The issue is not the use of technology consultants to facilitate digital transformation, it is about using the WRONG technology consultants to facilitate digital transformation. Good consultants establish partnerships with their clients, working with them to craft and implement solutions, while absorbing burdens that allow “insiders” to continue focusing on the daily run/operate of their businesses.

Additional Resources:

Valence Services – Consulting & Digital Strategy

Project Success is About the Tools, Not a Methodology

Project Success is About the Tools, Not a Methodology

by Glen Lewis

What is the best methodology for successful change management? Organizations need the right partner to achieve competitive advantage.

Scientists are searching for a theory of everything — a framework linking together all physical aspects of the universe. There is a similar quest among Project and Change Management practitioners, the search for a framework linking together all the methodologies and supporting tools out there: Lean Six Sigma’s (LSS) DMAIC, Prosci’s ADKAR, International Institute of Business Analysis’s (IIBA) and Project Management Institute (PMI) methodologies, etc. Unfortunately, proliferation of these methodologies and their supporting tools often leads to confused practitioners who choose to follow a single methodology, ignoring other tools that may enhance their approach.

The key to a “theory of everything” linking these methodologies together lies in how you define: (1) what a project is and (2) what these methodologies are. My experience has shown that projects are more often efforts to correct a problem. Whether building an overpass to relieve congestion or implementing new processes to improve compliance, projects tend to revolve around problem solving.

Training and experience have also shown that the numerous methodologies — ADKAR, DMAIC, PMBOK, etc.- are essentially a set of tools linked together in a prescribed fashion.

Using these general views, we can see how the various tools underlying the methodologies can be mixed, matched, and linked together across a single project.

Most of my clients view their projects as 2-part: (1) defining the problem and solution, and (2) implementing that solution. I usually follow IIBA’s business analysis methodology during part 1; however, this is also an ideal time to leverage LSS’s tools associated with DMAIC’s Define, Measure, and Analyze phases — such as value stream mapping or design of experiment. If LSS tools don’t fit, one can then fall back to such tools as the IIBA’s functional decomposition, to provide that complete picture of the problem.

During part 1, one can also break apart another popular methodology — Procsi’s ADKAR — layering their “build awareness and desire” tools upon those mentioned above, building a comprehensive enterprise understanding of the problem.

For the second part — implementing a solution — I prefer a hybrid process of agile principles supported by traditional project management planning tools — WBS, resource calendars, etc. Again, weaving in Procsi’s coaching and training tools as applicable, one can provide a holistic enterprise wide solution.

Finally, after delivering the solution, Prosci’s and LSS DMAIC’s “Control” offers tools ensuring change will be sustained. Another example is where it’s the tools and not the methodology leading to success.

In the end, these project management methodologies are a series of tools contained within prescribed frameworks that — if teased apart and recombined — provide unprecedented views of problems, solutions, and next steps. Ultimately organizations are not interested in a methodology. They want a practitioner that can understand and appreciate their unique problems, then drawing from a plethora of tools deliver the solution that will allow them to maintain their competitive advantage.

Who Should Lead your Digital Transformation?

Who Should Lead your Digital Transformation?

Who should lead digital transformation in large enterprises?

For simplicity I’ll limit the possible solutions to who should lead digital transformation in large enterprises to either the CIO or someone else. The two most important factors in making the right selection are your current state of technology adoption and your culture. Are you moving materials manually or is your operation automated? Are all parts of your organization connected (IoT) from sales to manufacturing? Are you already using AI? Are you still managing large waterfall style projects mapped start to finish with Gantt charts? Do you evaluate and deploy technology initiatives differently than other business initiatives? The answers to these questions can indicate where you are in your digital transformation process and the leadership required to move your organization forward.

Here are the two examples of situations where the CIO may be just the leader you need:

Situation 1 — Your enterprise is behind on technology adoption and you don’t even have a CIO. IT rolls-up to finance, HR, or other functional or operational leader. In this case, the CEO can set the tone for transformation by creating the role of CIO. She can define the CIO as the change agent and transform the culture around this role and the journey to an agile future state of the business.

Situation 2 — Your enterprise is technology-forward. Your data is already in the cloud and employees consume it real-time on mobile, desktop and operational devices alike. You include IT initiatives in core business decisions like other capital investments. In this case, your digital transformation culture is established and your focus is on implementing the latest emerging technologies.

Here is a situation where the CIO may not be the right leader:

Your company has intermittently adopted technology to supplement your ERP on an ad hoc basis, but the architecture was created before cloud and mobile fundamentals were even contemplated. Changing one application within your system risks breaking another, but you can’t predict which one. Culturally, your technology exploration and implementation cycles are bogged-down in IT backlog and your leaders see IT as a cost center. In this situation, the CEO will enable success by assigning a leader from outside the technology realm — a ‘digital transformation officer’ or project leader — to build and lead a cultural case for change from the ground up. Then the CIO can help deliver technology into the new culture.

Don’t blame the CIO too quickly for the current state of your enterprise. The explosion of technology and the economy in the early 2000’s collided to create expanding IT teams deploying new ERPs and adopting new technologies. Then the recession of the late 2000’s undermined the business assumptions upon which these investments were based. In my industry, building products, the result was devastating. No matter how good an IT team or leader may have been, IT was a less-understood cost-center. Considering that ten years ago any 40+ year-old CEO or senior executive had formed their business paradigm in a pre-mobile, pre-email and pre-PC world, any failed IT investments due to economic collapse were likely admonished more than non-IT investments that failed for the same underlying reason.

To establish a new digital path for your enterprise, a collaborative leader who has delivered results across multiple functions can deliver digital transformation. IT teams and consultants can help guide the technology deployment. After all, digital transformation is a culture change initiative to leverage technology, not a technology initiative to change culture. A successful digital transformation leader endorsed by the CEO and respected by peers builds a successful case for change from the ground up. The technologies he chooses to implement become decisions just like other investment decisions in equipment or teams and are weighed at the same time, by the same leaders, on the same basis of relative return on investment.

What is Digital Transformation?

What is Digital Transformation?

What is digital transformation?

While working for a Fortune 500 industrial enterprise in the building materials sector I thought digital transformation was just a buzzword to market IT services. Then I went work for Valence Group Inc., a digital transformation company. Within the first few weeks, I discovered several companies in the building products sector that had already undertaken digital transformation initiatives (their words, not mine!). To skeptical large-enterprise executives still unsure what digital transformation means, let’s answer “what is digital transformation?” 

An organization’s journey to change business models and processes and build an agile culture for adopting new and emerging technologies to improve customer experiences and operating results.

Let’s break this definition into its key parts:

First, digital transformation is a journey. Many traditional IT projects (including ERP) have a defined work plan, budget, and a cut-over date whereby a new technology tool is deployed with a high-impact one-time splash complete T-shirts, a project codename, and promises of synergies. Digital transformation is not just a one-time deployment, nor should it attempt predict the one tool that will deliver the end-state of technology to the enterprise. Through digital transformation your organization should be prepared to leverage new technology today and in the future.

Second, the purpose of the journey is to build an enduring agile culture. With roots in software development where teams adapt quickly to customer and market demands to deliver functioning software, the agile mindset can work across your entire business. The agile culture you build through digital transformation can become your company’s agile approach across your entire business. After all, companies are becoming digitally enabled enterprises or being left behind the competition.

Third, digital transformation is about adopting new and emerging technologies. Today, we can identify leading-edge digital initiatives as leveraging blockchain, augmented reality, and a few other emerging technologies. Seven years ago, these technologies were unknown. Seven years from now something new will transform business yet again. Digital transformation initiatives include technology deployment within an organization, but digital transformation is not about one specific technology. It is a journey to an agile culture to adopt and leverage new and emerging technologies, whatever these technologies are today or seven years from now.

Finally, the purpose of digital transformation is to improve customer experiences and operational results. In a pre-digitally-transformed business, the technology culture is centered on an IT team (cost center) keeping the infrastructure running and managing a back-log of new projects. Post-digital transformation, the agile culture extends across all functions and line leadership. Technology investments are considered at the same time as other assets like forklifts, production facilities, and warehouses, and by the same leaders. The technology tool set includes new and emerging technology that are leveraged for the specific purpose of improving customer experiences and operational results.

Our definition of what is digital transformation comes from a twenty-year foundation in building products and as a senior executive in a fortune 500 industrial company. It is more business-centric and less techy than some with the focus on culture and improving operating results. After all, aren’t all investments in people, equipment, and facilities ultimately about improving a result? Digital transformation should not be any different.

Additional Resources:

Advancing Digital Transformation in the Manufacturing, Operations and Logistics Industry

Advancing Digital Transformation in Manufacturing, Operations, and Logistics 

At Valence we are known for building and deploying leading-edge solution using digital transformation technologies. While many companies see the need for digital transformation, choosing where to start in any big industrial enterprise — and in particular manufacturing, operations and logistics — can be overwhelming. The gap between business systems and tools and the pillars of technology transforming business today may as well be the Grand Canyon. Taken together with the often monumental change management and culture gap workload, many teams find themselves far from becoming a data and technology-driven enterprise. Many know they need to execute on digital transformation — they just don’t know where to start.

How to address digital transformation in manufacturing, operations, and logistics? 

We try to close these gaps by connecting business domain knowledge with our clients with technology and solution expertise. We try to know enough about an industry to help companies get started down the digital transformation path. Because getting started — simply beginning the process of “doing” and “learning” — is what matters most.  Need a digital transformation team who understands global supply chain? How about distribution operations, warehousing, and transportation? What about reliability in industrial manufacturing? And why not add first-hand experience of monumental culture-change when integrating businesses, on top of the complexities of combining ERP systems? At Valence we have more domain knowledge to combine with our expertise than ever.

We are committed helping you transform your business and operating results through the practical application of modern technologies. And we want to connect you to the experts who understand your business to make it happen. We’re not talking about just purely academic knowledge from freshly minted MBAs, but real empathy from Fortune 500 senior leadership who has walked in your shoes (steel-toed, that is), coupled with seasoned operations and builders of technology solutions. Let’s make it happen!

Additional Resources: