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Want to Drive Innovation at Your Healthcare Company? You Need an Outsider’s Perspective

5 min read

The healthcare industry is in a state of flux. Digital giants like Amazon are entering the space and shaking it up in the process. Long-established businesses know they must innovate — and improve their customer experiences — in order to defend their territory. As a result, many healthcare companies are suddenly investing more deeply in innovation. They are hiring executives from within the tech industry, instituting innovation labs, and reimagining their digital spaces and experiences.

Chances are good that your own healthcare organization is seeking to up the ante on innovation. But in order to identify fresh opportunities, you’ll need a fresh perspective. And the best way to get that is by engaging with a seasoned and forward-thinking agency partner — one that brings an outside-in perspective to bear on your organization’s unique challenges. When it comes to innovation, here are some of the benefits of outsourcing in healthcare.

Why Healthcare Companies Miss the Mark on Innovation When They Go It Alone

It’s no secret that healthcare companies boast smart, competent, and ambitious teams. Yet they often struggle to pivot toward innovation without an external partner to guide them. This is true for several reasons.

Inside-the-Box Expertise

The first has to do with how very expert most healthcare teams are. It’s not uncommon for healthcare employees and executives to devote their entire careers to the industry. As you might expect, this makes them extremely knowledgeable about how things work within their space. And that’s a good thing.

But the very same phenomenon (and the familiarity it breeds) can make innovation that much more difficult. After all, the longer you work within a certain industry or role, the easier it is to get a sort of tunnel vision. As your domain knowledge deepens, you may lose sight of current trends in adjacent industries. Which means you are missing out on insights that could lead to breakthroughs in how you provide your service, present your information, and interact with your users.

The reality is that internal technology and business teams have a harder time thinking outside the box. That makes sense when you consider that their day-to-day existence takes place inside of it! Just as novelists are “too close” to their work to be their own editors, many healthcare professionals are “too close” to their products to identify opportunities for innovation.

For example, internal teams often think they already know what their users want and need. After all, they meet regularly with their CX and sales teams. But there’s a whole host of untested assumptions embedded within those presuppositions that may or may not actually be true, and behaviors can change which requires you to keep an on-going dialogue with your customers.

Immutable Constraints

Not only are internal teams accustomed to the status quo, but they are also very aware of their product’s flaws and limitations. They may assume that their current technological constraints are fixed and immutable, clearly defining all future possibilities. While it’s good to know your systems’ edges, innovation demands that you balance that understanding with a willingness to look beyond existing horizons.

In addition, internal teams are embedded within their organization’s culture. They must deal with internal politics as they navigate new ideas. Depending on an organization’s particular culture, that may make the path to innovation even less clear. In a highly regulated, risk-averse industry like healthcare, the result is often slow, incremental change.

New Talent

Hiring new talent from other industries represents a short-term fix. Over time, those new hires ultimately assimilate to the existing culture. It would be hard for anyone to keep generating innovative new ideas over the long term while working in the same environment, day in and day out.

Maintenance versus Innovation

And finally, most internal teams are built to support an existing system’s maintenance — not innovate new ways of doing things. After all, maintenance is completely different from innovation. While maintenance is concerned with efficiency and stability, innovation requires a certain level of waste and instability.

Not only do many internal teams not have time to innovate, but they simply aren’t geared toward innovation in the first place.

How an Outside-In Perspective Drives Innovation in the Healthcare Space

At UpTop, one of the biggest values we bring to clients is our outside-in perspective. We bring a fresh set of eyes to well-worn problems, and we aren’t afraid to rock the boat in search of the best solutions.

While we have deep expertise in the healthcare space, over the past 20 years we’ve worked with enterprise-level clients across many industries, including Microsoft, Amazon, CenturyLink, Capital One and SAP Concur. Which means domain knowledge doesn’t constrain us. Instead, we draw from a pool of experiences and insights that are just waiting to be cross-pollinated. This enables us to diverge in our thinking much more easily and not get overly vested in any one idea.

For example, when Healthcare Management Administrators (HMA) asked us to help them build a native app, we relied on our extensive experience building mobile apps, such as the award-winning Diptic app. We provided HMA with a series of recommendations for their app. Next, we worked with them to prioritize the right features for an MVP (minimum viable product) launch and continued building on the app with a series of phased releases.

In addition, as a third party, we are able to say things and ask questions that may be uncomfortable or “out of bounds” for internal teams. Because we aren’t worried about tip-toeing around political landmines, we can more easily get to the root of problems — and take new risks.

Finally, UpTop’s approach is specifically geared toward unearthing innovation. Using design thinking and lean UX, we guide our clients in tackling big problems quickly and efficiently — without getting bogged down in traditional organizational issues.

Interested in learning more about how we can bring our outside-in perspective to your healthcare organization? We’d love to hear from you.

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