Questions to Ask of Your Digital Health Strategic Framework | UpTop Health

Ask These Questions Before Defining Your Healthcare Organization’s Next Digital Project

Healthcare organizations are complex and interconnected. So it stands to reason that most healthcare digital projects follow the same pattern. Which means it can often be hard to discern the scope of a new digital initiative before it begins.

Here’s what often happens: Business executives identify a need for a new digital initiative. They know what they want to achieve in terms of business objectives. And they may even think they know what needs to be done to get there. So they sponsor a project and define the scope … all before fully mapping out the IT and UX design dependencies. And that’s where the trouble starts.

You see, there’s more than one way to approach any digital project. It’s a lot like fixing up a house. Depending on your goals, budget, timeline, and capabilities, you might decide to do one of three things. You could redecorate with a fresh coat of paint and some new furniture. You could remodel by reconfiguring the rooms and finishes. Or you could rebuild by adding on a new wing or tearing down the whole thing and starting over again.

The same principle applies to your next digital project. For example, let’s say you need to improve some facet of your member portal’s user experience. You could do that by redecorating (reworking the surface-level design of your portal, including colors, fonts, and written instructions), remodeling (redesigning the portal in a more substantive way, including user flows and interfaces), or rebuilding (recreating the portal from scratch).

Too often, healthcare organizations jump to one conclusion or another about the scope of a digital initiative — only to later find they’ve squandered time, resources, and results on the wrong solution. So, how can you figure out the scope of a project that may be intangible, interconnected, and complex? By asking the right questions — in the right order.

Key Questions to Ask Business, Technology, and Design Leaders Before Defining the Scope of Your Next Healthcare Digital Project

To find the right strategy for your digital project, you must first understand the nuanced interplay between your business objectives, technological constraints, and UX design needs. Only then can you uncover the perfect solution to achieve your desired outcomes.

The questions you’ll need to ask span your organization. No one person or team can answer all of them on their own. The process of honing in on the right solution is necessarily collaborative.

The following three sets of questions are broken out by business, technology, and UX design. Business questions should always come first. After all, you can’t possibly decide how to approach a digital project if you don’t know why you’re doing it in the first place. Tech questions come next. They shed light on what’s technically possible and offer guardrails within which the UX design team can ideate solutions. To get the order of operations right, plan to tackle the questions in the order they appear below.

Business Questions

Start by asking yourself (and other business executives) the following questions:

  • What is the business driver for this technology initiative? Why are you prioritizing this now? The answer may lie in one or more of the following:
    • Market opportunity
    • Scalability
    • Risk mitigation
    • Compliance
    • Security
    • Increase productivity
    • Reduce costs (labor, licensing, maintenance, and/or support)
    • Create efficiencies
    • Reduce effort
    • Improve customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • How does this initiative fit into your vision and digital business strategy over the next 5 years?
  • What are your 1-year and 2-year digital product and services roadmaps?
  • What is the opportunity cost associated with this project? If you were to do nothing, what opportunities might you lose? Is there a future point at which you might be forced to deal with this problem (as in the case of a looming regulatory requirement)?
  • Is any of our current technology holding us back from achieving our business objectives today? If so, what are our short-term and long-term options?
  • Do we have technical debt that we can reduce as part of this initiative?
  • How quickly do we need to make this change available to our end users?
  • What is the compelling event dictating our proposed project deadline?
    • Is it a regulatory deadline?
    • Is the technology or service you use being discontinued or no longer supported?
    • Are you reacting to our competition?
    • Do you see a market opportunity that we need to act quickly to capture?
  • In terms of outcomes, what are the must-haves versus the nice-to-haves?
    • Example: If your organization has a directive that all infrastructure and services must be cloud-based by 2022, that is a must-have requirement. If your current technology can’t support this must-have requirement, then it must be replaced.
  • What are your business and user goals for your digital experience? Are those goals being met within your existing digital ecosystem? Do you know why or why not?
  • Is your organization willing to make a long-term investment?
  • How resistant is your organization to change? If your company is on the more resistant side, a phased approach may be best.

Technology Questions

  • Does your current software stack allow you to easily innovate?
  • Is your current software architecture extendable to accommodate new projects, initiatives, and lines of business?
  • Is your current software stack set up to service more and diversified offerings as your business grows?
  • What percentage of your budget goes towards maintaining your current infrastructure versus innovation?
  • Are all pieces of your software ecosystem still regularly supported and updated?
  • Does your current technical architecture support your digital business strategy over the next 5 years? What about your 1-year and 2-year digital product and services roadmaps?
  • Do we have technical debt that we can reduce as part of this initiative?

UX Design Questions

Finally, ask your UX design team (whether internal or external) to answer the following queries:

  • How successful is your digital experience in meeting your business objectives/KPIs? Which KPIs are underperforming, and why?
  • What are you seeing in your organization’s customer support logs (including emails, chatbots, and call centers)? How high are your incident volumes? What type of issues are users talking about? Are there common themes? How severe are the issues your customers are experiencing?
  • Do you have any other customer/user feedback data, such as Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) surveys, reviews, usability studies, and other usability surveys (such as the Net Promoter Score and System Usability Scale)?
  • Is your digital experience aligned to your brand (definition, values, promise, identity, positioning, differentiation, messaging, experience)?

With these questions to guide you, your team can more quickly and confidently align around the right solution for your healthcare business. Which means that your next digital initiative is sure to be a success — regardless of whether you redecorate, remodel, or rebuild.