Monday, August 6, 2018

Digital Transformation

Below is my monthly message for the August 2018 edition of the MHRI newsletter, Focus. You can view Focus online at

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

What does ‘Digital Transformation’ mean to you?

I just participated in a STARLab (Socio-Technical Action Research Lab) dedicated to this topic. In these roundtable discussions, a diverse group of people shared their experience, perspective, and vision for how the coming digital transformations will change our lives and, subsequently, our business models. This think-tank activity took place in Silicon Valley (of course!) and was attended by approximately 50 people representing very diversified business lines such as Google, Amgen, BASF (a chemical company), Deutsch Bank, Magellan Health, Nike, and Shell.
So what did I learn? Here is an abridged list:
The orginal 2007 iPhone next to the 2017 update (via Cnet)
  • The speed of digital change is accelerating so the changes we saw in the last 5-10 years will pale in comparison to what we will see in the next 10 years.  (Think about that: the iPhone was introduced just over 10 years ago.)
  • Because of the increasing rate of change, we need to learn faster, try more things, and be willing to fail (and fail as quickly as possible, so we can move on to another idea).
  • If we don’t disrupt our own business models (re-invent ourselves in the increasingly digital world) someone else will.
  • Digitalization of everything will drive increased efficiency and change consumer expectations (more, faster, easier).
  • Digital transformation is no longer an opportunity… it is an imperative!
Besides gaining information on the future digital changes, I also learned a lot from listening to these other large, global companies. For example, most have a matrixed organizational structure and struggle to combat the silo effect. Silos can make it hard to recognize the synergistic potential across the entire organization, so many have developed internal ‘social networking’ tools to build collaboration. Furthermore, the younger companies recognize the need to constantly change. For example, Google anticipates the need to continually change by incorporating an assessment of agility and the applicants’ comfort with change when they recruit any team member. They seek employees that view a career as a journey and not a destination.

Pepper can perceive emotions (via SoftBank)

Healthcare can learn a lot from these companies. At MHRI, we have many digital transformation initiatives happening right now! This includes: 1) our recent implementation of our CTMS (clinical trial management system) across the entire system and in partnership with Georgetown, 2) the ongoing implantation of a new IRB electronic platform (Huron Research Systems), also in partnership with Georgetown, 3) continued integration of research with our EHR (PowerTrials) and 4) the exploration this year of new mobile technologies that support clinical trial operations.

The digital transformation is an exciting time for healthcare and filled with unimaginable opportunities. With the help of these technologies, we will be able to advance health like never before. I am excited for tomorrow and working with the entire MedStar-Georgetown community to create that tomorrow together.

I hope you are enjoying the summer. Enjoy this month’s issue of FOCUS.


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