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To Build or to Buy: Why Your Healthcare Company Should Partner with a UX Agency

When it comes to digital innovation, many healthcare organizations know they are behind the curve. Yet they struggle to turn the tides of their internal culture and lay the groundwork for real innovation to take place.

The reason? Most big healthcare companies operate on legacy technologies and adhere to rigid waterfall development processes. Moreover, they are routinely limited to tight budgets that are primarily geared toward maintaining existing systems and data. As you might expect, these organizations are experts at managing healthcare plans and operating the backend systems that power them. But they aren’t built to focus on creating new digital experiences that satisfy their customers’ evolving needs.

Today’s healthcare CIO’s must figure out how to pivot and capture innovation while at the same time getting the most value for their budget. Their first instinct may be to build out an internal UX or digital innovation team to ensure that they “own” the apps and technology that run their business. But that kind of thinking often leads to incremental gains and missed opportunities.

Turning to an outside UX agency for healthcare IT innovation is the only way to inject instant innovation into an otherwise slow-to-move space. And by taking a closer look, you’ll find that going with an agency is the fastest, surest, and most cost-effective way to create a culture that innovates, creates, and builds — rather than one that maintains and operates.

The Top 3 Reasons Your Healthcare Organization Should Hire a UX Agency Rather than Build an Internal Team

You know you need to boost digital innovation at your healthcare company. And you also know that your existing team doesn’t have the bandwidth — or skillset — to go it alone. The question is, do you hire an external UX partner or spin up your own, in-house UX team? Here’s what you need to consider before making that decision.

1. An external UX agency delivers faster results

If you want your healthcare company to truly embrace digital innovation, you must first shift your internal culture. Rather than focusing exclusively on maintaining your existing legacy systems, you’ll need to open up to the possibility of entirely new systems and digital solutions. More than that, you need to start actively pursuing innovation.

No doubt, spinning up an internal UX team gives you the opportunity to bring in new staff members with fresh perspectives. But as much as your new hires might rub off on your organization, your organization’s culture is sure to rub off on them, too. Over time, as they are assimilated into your organization, they are more likely to see things through the established institutional lens. In addition, a single UX staffer may have a hard time getting the attention of other leaders within your organization and swaying the broader culture. Their voice is just one in a sea of many. All of which translates to diminishing returns in terms of innovation.

When you hire an external UX team, you immediately get the full benefit of their innovation-oriented culture — not to mention their deep experience and expertise.

That “outside-in” perspective remains intact regardless of how long you work with the same partner. After all, an agency is much less likely to be influenced by your own organization’s culture. Instead, as outside consultants, they are free to ask difficult questions and challenge the status quo. And the truth is that your leadership team is more likely to listen and respond to an expert consultant than an internal UX designer.

As a result, a UX agency can impact your organization’s culture more quickly, effectively, and lastingly.

2. Hiring an external UX agency is more cost-effective

On the face of it, engaging a UX agency may seem more costly than hiring your own internal staffer. But if you make an apples to apples comparison, you’ll find that it’s much more cost-effective to hire an external partner than it is to spin up an internal UX team.
Remember, when you hire an external UX agency, you instantly gain access to an entire team of seasoned professionals from various disciplines, including project managers, strategists, researchers, UX designers, engineers, and so forth.

For the same price tag, you might be able to hire a single senior UX designer. But if you’re trying to create change and maintain velocity, an army of one isn’t going to cut it. Keep in mind, too, that your internal hire will need to be onboarded and trained before they can start fully contributing — a process that takes additional time and money.

In addition to recruiting and hiring the right people, you’ll need to figure out the right processes. With an agency, all of those elements are already in place.

Finally, outside agencies live and die by the quality of their most recent work. The nature of their engagements means they are incentivized to produce outstanding results every time. After all, if they don’t deliver, you can simply let them go.

3. The right UX agency can feel like you have an embedded team

You may think an internal UX team could serve your organization better because they are embedded within it.

It’s true that an internal team is sure to know the ins and outs of your company. But a top-notch UX agency can act as a seamless extension of your team. With excellent communication and the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with your team, the agency experience can rival that of an embedded team.

In the quest for digital innovation, you must move quickly in order to keep pace with the competition. And the best way to close the innovation skills gap is by partnering with an innovation-minded UX firm like UpTop. Want to learn more about how UpTop can inject digital innovation into your healthcare company? Let’s talk.

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