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What’s Holding Digital Transformation In Healthcare Back?

Without a path forward, little gets accomplished.

4 min readSep 1, 2022


There’s a dirty little secret that’s playing a significant role in holding healthcare innovation back.

It’s not the lack of digital expertise.

It’s not the lack of budget.

It’s not even establishing a return on investment.

It’s the lack of strategy.

Too often, innovation is placed in the business queue and left to find its own path. Innovation is essential to any digital transformation. It’s how businesses keep up with the ever-changing landscape and stay ahead of the competition. And in healthcare, it’s also how hospitals and organizations can drive superior outcomes and save lives.

But innovation doesn’t happen by itself. It requires careful planning and execution. Without a path, the old notion of “all of the above” morphs into ambiguity and confusion. Many people fail to develop a strategy because they try to do too much at once. They try to implement new technologies, processes, and organizational changes all at once, and they end up overwhelmed and frustrated. They don’t have a clear plan for how to get there, and they don’t have the resources to make it happen. So, they give up, and the digital transformation process stalls and never gets past the lofty aspirations of senior management or the promises made in a slick annual report. Too often, the discussion of innovation and digital transformation never leaves the semantic reality — bantered about from the lectern and on social media.

In a recent AT&T survey, business leaders in healthcare reached a shocking conclusion. The survey found that the lack of a unified strategy was the dominate challenge in digital transformation. In fact, this strategic obstacle was five times greater than commonly cited examples, such as “required expertise” and about 10 times greater that an “ROI justification” for the expense. In other words, organizations may have the resources to drive change, but fail to have a coherent strategy to implement digital transformation.

What is the top obstacal your organization faces in digital transformation?
Senior healthcare IT leaders from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) were asked what was the top obstacle to digital transformation that faces your organization. (n = 91)

Digital transformation is the process of turning your business into a digital enterprise. It’s about moving away from legacy systems and embracing new technologies to create a more agile and responsive organization. But it’s not just about technology. It’s also about strategy. You need to have a clear vision for where you want your company to go, and the strategies to get there. And that’s where many companies struggle, because digital transformation is not just a technology-based project, it’s a fundamental change in how your company operates.

Without a clear strategy, innovation efforts are likely to flounder. That’s because innovation requires resources, and those resources need to be allocated in a way that supports the overall goals of the business. A lack of strategy also hinders innovation because it can lead to a scattered and inefficient approach. Too often, organizations invest in a variety of innovation initiatives without a clear idea of how they fit together. This can lead to duplication of effort and waste of resources.

Further, strategic and tactical synergies are essential to optimized efforts. Innovation doesn’t exist in a vacuum. In fact, the true nature of today’s digital transformation is the application of multiple strategies converging and creating the proverbial 1 + 1 = 3. It’s this convergence of independent strategies that gives rise to breakthrough change and disruption. And in today’s exponential world, the dynamics that emerges from “synergistic” strategic relationships are far from a simple linear extrapolation.

“By investing in digital technologies, healthcare organizations can enhance communication and collaboration among caregivers, improve the overall patient experience, and efficiently deliver care to patients outside traditional healthcare facilities.” Joe Drygas, VP, Industry Solutions Healthcare, AT&T Business.

The bottom line is that innovation cannot succeed without strategy. Strategy provides the framework that innovation needs to thrive. It’s a roadmap.

In many instances, healthcare is struggling to innovate. It’s time to take a step back and ask yourself if you have a clear strategy in place. If not, it’s time to develop one. Otherwise, you’ll continue to hold off innovation and wallow in the wishful techno-banter that can paralyze transformation. And in this instance, talk isn’t cheap. It’s expensive, wasteful and potentially deadly.

Want more? You can dig in deeper into the survey and understand what it reveals for the state of digital transformation for healthcare?

This post was sponsored by AT&T Business, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent AT&T Business’s positions or strategies.




I’m a technology theorist driving innovation at humanity’s tipping point.