Before COVID-19, healthcare executives were investing heavily in technologies such as automation, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) to reinvent how work is done. As these companies double down on technology to weather the coronavirus storm, they may miss major opportunities to get the most out of technology investments because of a missing critical factor – employee input.
According to a new national survey of healthcare workers by Eagle Hill Consulting, almost half report that their employer introduced a new technology in the last two years, but only 29 percent say their company invests in the right technologies to help employees do their job. Just 42 percent say technology changes have had a positive impact on their organization.
Also, more than three-fourths of healthcare workers say they need more skills to adapt to advancing technology. But only 44 percent report that their company gives them the right level of support to understand and benefit from new technology solutions.
Download the research here.
“COVID-19 provides an even greater need for technology advancements to help patients, save lives and enable the healthcare industry to continue its work amid significant societal interruption,” said Melissa Jezior, Eagle Hill Consulting president and chief executive officer. “But, healthcare companies cannot fully realize the impact of their technology investments unless they engage their workforce.”
“Technology advances are seen as a solution to strengthen operational capabilities and allow companies to deliver on great expectations – and the pressure on technology may be even greater as we endure this global pandemic. But, our research finds that companies aren’t asking their employees critical questions before new technologies are deployed. And they aren’t preparing employees to utilize new technologies and the future of work that technologies can create,” Jezior explained.
“It’s imperative that companies know how a technology solution will change and augment current work and how it will impact skills and competencies from a training and hiring perspective,” said Jezior. “Technology has been deployed at warp speed. But understanding, engaging and upskilling the workforce lags.”
The Eagle Hill Consulting research reveals a significant gap in values between health technology investments and how employees experience them:
- Employees understand that tech advances offer exciting possibilities. Yet, they say technology investments do not necessarily improve performance. While almost half report that their employer introduced a new technology in the last two years, only 29 percent say the company invests in the right technology to support them. And just 42 percent think technology change has had a positive impact on their organization.
- Employees are not confident about technology change because they are not getting necessary support from their employers. More than three-fourths of healthcare workers say they need more skills to adapt to advancing technology, yet only 44 percent report that their company gives them the right level of support to understand and benefit from new technology solutions.
- The best way to give employees the right support when implementing technology is to ask them what they need. Yet, employers are not communicating with employees about technology decisions. Less than two in ten healthcare workers are asked for their input on technology decisions. And, 13 percent are completely unaware of technology changes in their company. For the outlier companies that do solicit employee feedback, they typically do so after a solution has been purchased. The lack of early feedback from the employees actually using the solutions can undermine the investment in technology.
The coronavirus pandemic has led healthcare companies to deploy telehealth, digital epidemiology tools, chatbot helpers and remote work environments to slow the spread of the virus, care for hundreds of thousands of patients, keep employees on the job and try to meet business objectives in trying times. Such technologies offer the promise of better health outcomes and lives saved, as well as greater speed, efficiency, accuracy and bottom-line savings in healthcare delivery and operations.
On the organizational side, technologies enable health and life sciences companies nationwide to fulfill strategic and business goals. But, these investments come at a price. And as technology budgets have risen, outlays will be under even greater scrutiny moving forward because of the impact of coronavirus on corporate earnings.
There are simple but important actions healthcare companies can take to overcome the gap and get the most from technology investments.
- Understand the real problem at hand. A new technology won’t override outdated business process, broken cultures or skills gaps.
- Test the hypothesis and gain vital insights in the process. Resist the urge to conduct root cause analysis of a business challenge in isolation of the employees doing the work every day.
- Understand the human ROI. The best technology solutions get the most out of humans
- Assess tomorrow’s impacts today. Think strategically about how implementation of a new technology will impact the current and future workforce.
The Eagle Hill Consulting “Technology in the Healthcare Workplace Survey 2020” was conducted online by Ipsos in Q1 2020. The survey, which included a random sample of 675 U.S. healthcare industry employees, polled respondents on aspects of the impact of technology such as artificial intelligence, automation and robotics on their current and future work environment.