The Power of Service Design: Unlocking Digital Success in Healthcare

In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, digital transformation is essential for enhancing patient care, improving efficiency, and reducing costs. As organizations seek ways to improve their digital services to better serve their customers, its paramount to align them with your business objectives. However, navigating this journey can often feel like exploring uncharted waters. 

Enter Service Design—a powerful approach that places users at the heart of the design process while ensuring efficiency, effectiveness, and alignment with business goals.  

What is Service Design? 

Service design is a human-centered approach to crafting services that resonate with users and drive business success. At its core, service design involves defining a service’s value proposition and designing interaction and operating models that cater to both your customer needs and your business objectives. This work results in more intentional and well-orchestrated service components (touchpoints, information, people, etc.) that deliver better outcomes for all service participants (customers, employees, and other stakeholders). 

“Service design involves defining a service’s value proposition and designing interaction and operating models that cater to both customer needs and business objectives. “

Caroline Zenss

Lead Interaction Designer

Service Design Benefits 

To fully appreciate the impact of service design, it’s important to delve into the specific advantages it brings to both businesses and their clients. Each of these elements plays a crucial role in not only aligning with your objectives but also in sustaining a competitive advantage in a rapidly evolving market.

Enter the Service Blueprint 

Service blueprints play a crucial role in service design; they provide a comprehensive view that combines the user journey with all the elements from the business that impact the customer’s experience. It serves as a roadmap, guiding the design and improvement of services by visualizing the entire service ecosystem—from touchpoints to backend processes. 

Example of a Service Blueprint
Example Service Blueprint

Why Service Blueprinting Matters

Components of a Service Blueprint 

Understanding the intricacies of a service blueprint is essential for optimizing your service delivery and ensuring a seamless customer experience. In this section, we dissect the key components of a service blueprint, offering a comprehensive view of how each element contributes to the overall design.  

By delineating the front-stage interactions, backstage operations, and the line of visibility that separates them, we shed light on the invisible mechanisms that drive exceptional service and organizational efficiency. 

Components of a Service Blueprint
Components of a Service Blueprint

When to Leverage Service Blueprinting 

Whether you’re just beginning or well into development of a new digital solution, it’s always the right time to initiate the blueprinting process. 

Examples of Service Design at Work 

Pharmacy Benefits Management 

In a major project to improve specialty pharmacy services, we worked with a pharmacy benefits management company, first focusing on understanding how patients, healthcare providers, pharmacies, and the client interact.  

By holding workshops and working closely together, we examined every part of the process to find weaknesses and opportunities for improvement. This effort brought everyone together to create a new, shared vision for the future of specialty pharmacy services, aiming to provide excellent patient care throughout the process. 

The Service Design Blueprint not only provided a snapshot of the current situation but also evolved into a valuable instrument that facilitated collaboration among various teams and stakeholders. It steered their attention toward addressing future requirements and mapping out subsequent actions. 

Health and Well-being Company 

This health and well-being company used service design to improve how they offer care to their members, particularly those going through significant life events like becoming a parent or moving. With our help, they developed easy-to-follow care checklists that members could access through the company’s online portal. These checklists were designed to be engaging and helpful, initially for certain health plan members, with plans to expand these services to others in the future. 

The team created a prototype—a test version of the online experience—that showed what essential features should be included initially (MVP) and what could be added later (Beyond MVP). They also made a playbook to guide the future development of these services. 

The result was a service that not only made it easier for members to understand what benefits and support were available to them during tough times but also helped the company’s care advisors provide better support. 

Conclusion 

At Emids, we recognize the transformative power of service design and blueprinting. By leveraging these tools, we empower organizations to create user-centric, efficient, and effective digital services that drive meaningful outcomes for both customers and businesses. 

For expert guidance on service design with your product, contact our UX and Strategy Team.   

The Backlog: A Secret Weapon for Agile Low Code Development  

In Agile software development, speed and adaptability are critical, and a well-maintained backlog is a secret weapon for project success. This principle is especially true for Agile Low Code development, where a robust backlog serves as a strategic roadmap that guides development efforts and promotes efficient resource allocation. This article explores how a backlog optimizes Agile Low Code projects, highlighting its contributions to planning, risk mitigation, and prioritized task execution. 

Why Backlogs are Essential for Agile Low Code Development 

A robust Agile backlog serves as the project’s compass, guiding the team through the Low Code development journey. Here’s why it matters: 

The Low Code Advantage: Rapid Application Development 

Low Code platforms have revolutionized the way applications are built. These platforms empower developers to create functional software with minimal hand-coding, significantly reducing development time. The key advantage of leveraging low code in healthcare is rapid application development—a boon for businesses aiming to stay ahead in the competitive healthcare market. 

Here’s how the backlog plays a pivotal role in this context: 

Collaboration and Alignment: The Foundation 

Before embarking on a Low Code journey, alignment among key stakeholders is paramount. The Business Analyst, Product Owner, Client Architect, User Experience Engineer, and Client Engagement Lead must be in sync. Their collective understanding of project goals, user needs, and technical constraints ensures accurate requirement capture. This collaborative effort populates the backlog with actionable items, setting the stage for successful Low Code development. 

A well-structured backlog acts as the compass guiding Agile Low Code projects toward success. It enables teams to swiftly transform ideas into functional applications, all while maintaining alignment and collaboration across roles. So, next time you embark on a Low Code venture, remember: a well-prepared backlog is your secret weapon!  

If you’re ready to advance your projects with a partner who understands the intricacies of healthcare solutions, Emids is here to help. Let’s connect your vision with our expertise and embark on a journey to redefine the health landscape. Contact Emids, and together, we’ll turn the possibilities of today into the impactful health care solutions of tomorrow. 

Working Towards a Mature Accessibility Culture at Emids 

As organizations recognize the importance of creating inclusive environments for those with disabilities, they may struggle with where to begin. At Emids, we used a systematic approach to evaluate our current state of accessibility and developed a strategic plan for improvement. By sharing our story, we hope to inspire other companies to work towards maturing their accessibility culture, while also seeing the value in doing so.  

Exploring Accessibility Maturity Models 

It is critical to assess our current state of accessibility before we try to improve it. To do this, we reviewed different accessibility maturity models (AMMs). An AMM is a ready-to-use self-assessment tool that allows organizations to evaluate their current state of accessibility, while curating a roadmap for the future.  

There are a variety of accessibility maturity models that are publicly available. When choosing the model to adopt, we considered various factors. We evaluated which models’ dimensions best suit our needs. We also considered complexity and viability, such as the required resources for evaluation using the model. Lastly, we considered the guidance and clarity that was provided on how to use each model.  

The Digital Accessibility Maturity Model (DAMM) best suited our needs at Emids. This model, similar to a rubric, consists of five dimensions scored using five levels. The dimensions and their corresponding goals are as follows:  

Linear presentation of the digital accessibility maturity model dimensions and goals with the five levels of maturity listed in a hierarchical order: level 1 stands for informal. level 2 for defined, level 3 for repeatable, level 4 for managed and level 5 for optimal.

Researching our Current Accessibility Landscape 

By following a roadmap to keep us on track and accountable, we evaluated the model’s dimensions based on the five levels. We started with secondary research to better understand accessibility and best practices to curate a mature accessibility culture within organizations. For instance, we assessed industry standards and other leading companies’ accessibility initiatives. We looked inwards to see what exists within the organization when it comes to accessibility (e.g., training, tools, policy, etc). Then, we held interviews with leadership to get their perspective on the state of accessibility and asked them questions relevant to the model to better evaluate it. Lastly, we implemented targeted employee surveys across distinct teams to achieve a comprehensive assessment of accessibility within the organization.  

Recommendations for Building an Organization’s Accessibility Program 

In the journey to creating an all-encompassing accessibility program, there are several foundational building blocks that organizations should consider. Based on what we learned from the organization-wide audit exercise, we propose that organizations focus on these five building blocks: Leadership, education, culture, policies, and tools. 

Leadership  

First and foremost, leadership plays a pivotal role. It’s not sufficient for leadership to merely give approval or the proverbial “green light”; they must actively drive the initiative towards accessibility maturity. Achieving accessibility isn’t a passive endeavor—it requires leaders to champion the cause. Having leadership buy-in ensures that there’s ownership, accountability, and a continued emphasis on prioritization and awareness throughout the organization. For example, having an executive sponsor in the organization to support accessibility initiatives and secure a budget for implementation can significantly benefit an organization’s accessibility program. 

Education 

Education is another significant pillar. To foster a culture of accessibility, organizations need to devise a clear education plan marked by regular, efficient initiatives. This will not only build awareness but will also ensure that accessibility remains at the forefront of company conversations. Starting with foundational education on subjects like accessibility, diversity and inclusion is crucial. These topics should then be incorporated into mandatory trainings for all employees. Once a baseline understanding is achieved, the learning journey should be furthered through additional initiatives, such as workshops and inviting guest speakers. It’s also pivotal to encourage team and role-specific education. Making educational resources readily available and promoting spaces where knowledge can be shared will bolster the learning curve. 

Culture 

Shifting gears to culture, every organization aiming for inclusivity should prioritize building a network of champions and allies. These are individuals who are not only passionate about accessibility but are also committed to driving the initiative forward. Ideally, these champions should be integrated into a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) group. After all, true inclusion is impossible without considering accessibility. By empowering these champions with the right knowledge and tools, they can become experts on the topic and lead the charge. 

Policies 

On the front of policies, organizations need clear, enforceable, and adaptable guidelines. Every policy should come with a severity rating, educating employees on the potential consequences of breaches. Exceptions to these policies should be rare and only granted through formal requests to leadership following a standardized process. Moreover, whenever new policies are introduced, they should be promptly communicated. It’s essential that employees are clear about what’s expected of them, particularly in terms of their roles and responsibilities around accessibility. 

Tools 

Lastly, in terms of tools, employees should be provided with all the necessary resources to seamlessly incorporate accessibility into their daily roles. Standardizing which tools are to be used by specific roles ensures consistency and efficiency throughout the organization. 

The Path to Improvement 

It is worth highlighting that there is no one-size-fits-all model. Depending on an organization’s structure and goals, adopting multiple models for its accessibility maturity assessment might be necessary. Also, we understand that the Digital Accessibility Maturity Model (DAMM) goes beyond a one-off application; it can assist us in creating a roadmap and tracking our progress. Like other initiatives, trying to implement all five dimensions at this stage could be overwhelming. Instead, our approach is to prioritize one or two dimensions at a time. Following best practices, we begin with vision and leadership. Finally, setting reasonable goals will serve as motivation for timely progress. 

Now, more than ever, our company is motivated to improve our culture, since we have a tangible plan using the model and applying best practices. With a well-defined plan and prioritization, we can surely improve our accessibility program. We encourage other companies to follow this path – assess where you stand, create a strategic plan for improvement, and start making that positive change. Inclusive future begins with your action today. 

Beginner’s Guide to Behavioral Design in HealthTech: Key Strategies and Tips 

Behavior change is the new frontier in healthtech 

Globally, seven out of the 10 leading causes of death are a result of – or exacerbated by – unhealthy behaviors. This is not lost in healthtech where the market value of mHealth apps currently sits close to $50 billion and is expected to more than double by the end of the decade.  

In traditional healthcare and public health, interventions to improve health behavior can vary in degree – from hands-on, in-person programs, overseen by medical professionals to more subtle, structural interventions such as the addition of a walking track in a local park. To attest to the effectiveness of these types of interventions, we can rely on decades of evidence. 

In the digital realm, the relationship between evidence and implementation is less fortified. While some health behavior apps can proport to be science-backed, the reality is, not every organization has the benefit of a Chief Science Officer or a behavioral design team to help drive product design decision making.  

What is Behavioral Design  

In healthcare and digital health, behavioral design focuses on creating technologies and interventions that encourage healthier behaviors. It leverages insights into how people make health-related decisions and form habits. The goal is to design apps, devices, and systems that are more engaging and effective at promoting positive health behaviors, such as regular exercise, healthy eating, medication adherence, or chronic disease management. By understanding the factors that influence behavior, these designs can effectively encourage patients towards better health outcomes, making it easier for them to adopt and maintain healthy habits.  

So how does a product team decide what to build if they lack behavioral design expertise? In this regard, the Behavioral Design (BxD) team at Emids has created solutions – built on years of research and practice – to enable teams to make better decisions when designing digital solutions aimed at helping people lead healthier lives. 

What is the Emids Behavioral Design Framework 

The Behavioral Design Framework (BxD) is a set of guiding principles aimed at facilitating the design and evaluation of optimal user experiences to elicit positive health behavior change. BxD is built upon a multidisciplinary approach, integrating insights from cognitive sciences, behavior change techniques, gameful design, and gamification. It’s applicable across various digital products or services that engage individuals and promote sustained behavior change. The framework includes defining product direction with behavior change strategies, creating or reimagining products with a behavioral design lens, and evaluating existing products against 12 best practice behavior change principles. 

The 12 principles capture the most effective aspects of digitally inspired behavior change and these are layered against 4 user-product stages that allow us to present the right interaction in the right moment of the journey.  

For a deeper dive on Behavioral Design consider these 8 Behavior-Change Design Tips

Considerations for Getting Started 

Consider best-practice principles – and then go beyond 

Download any well-reviewed health app, and the same behavioral hooks exist. They’ll ask you to set goals, show you feedback on your progress, send you motivational reminders, and reward you when you reach your targets. In today’s competitive health app market, these principles are the bare minimum expectations. When designing for behavior change there are additional principles, linked to evidence-backed theory, that can make your solution more effective in the long-run.  

One often overlooked mechanism is that of human connection. Research shows that support from a shared-experience community increases an individual’s capacity to change their behavior.  Product teams might be cautious to implement any social component, especially one they need to moderate. But human connection doesn’t have to be an ad-hoc social network. Knowledge of others on the same journey can be just as powerful. 

Health behavior also doesn’t take place in a vacuum. The environment around us can impact our actions. If there’s a thunderstorm outside, no level of motivational messaging from our phones will make us brave the harsh conditions and go for a run. Health apps need to account for the environment and adjust their service accordingly. 

Human connection and accounting for the environment are just two additional principles to consider. The important thing to keep in mind is to truly impact behavior, a digital product needs to include techniques outside the standard pale of ideation. 

Be conscious of how and when you implement behavioral principles 

Whether considering goal-setting or human connection, how and when behavioral principles are implemented can decisively impact the effectiveness of the app.  

The Emids BxD team asks guiding questions specific to each principle they recommend to ensure it is executed correctly. However, it is always important to integrate user research analytics for measuring the success of a feature as a starting point. 

For most product teams, the simplest place to start when implementing a behavioral principle is to consider the journey an end-user goes through when using a health app as described in this article. The most common error most health apps make is showcasing their behavioral principles at the wrong time.  

Consider an app, in which during onboarding it asks you to set goals and link your smart devices for enhanced feedback. Here’s the thing, health apps require a more rigorous explanation of their features, how they impact the health outcome, and especially health data transparency. Jumping straight to goal setting without educating users on its benefit to the end outcome or asking to link devices without showcasing your commitment to data privacy is – simply put – bad user experience, and will work against you when trying to get individuals to trust and engage with an app. In short, you can work with the best science, but timing is essential.  

Deciding which principles are most relevant for an app, how to implement them, and when they are best executed are vital to ensure the optimum user experience and to facilitate positive health behavior change. For expert guidance on behavioral design with your product, contact our BxD team.  

Building Product the Right Way: Unpacking High-Performance Engineering Culture

In today’s rapidly evolving technological landscape in the healthcare sector, developing a product that positively impacts both the end user and the developer is crucial. This necessitates building the product correctly, but often organizations are faced with the challenge of navigating through various factors impacting the process. A process that encompasses fostering a high-performance engineering culture, implementing effective metrics and encouraging innovation.  

During the ‘New-Now Studio’ roundtable discussion at the Emids Healthcare Summit 2023, we gained some fascinating insights from healthcare leaders on the importance of ‘Building product the right way’. The conversations explored deeper into the different elements that are essential for creation of robust and user-friendly products that align with market needs. 

Fostering A High-Performance Engineering Culture 

The creation of high-performance engineering teams is fundamental to success. This process requires a multifaceted approach, beginning with instilling a sense of purpose within the team. Leaders play a vital role in removing barriers to progress, ensuring alignment of goals and dedicating themselves to the success of each team member. A hallmark of these high-performing teams is their discipline, particularly exemplified by a commitment to avoid multitasking during meetings and sprint ceremonies and understanding the disruptive impact of “hero culture” on team dynamics which can often skew team performance. 

Equally important is striking the balance between prescriptiveness and autonomy. Teams need enough structure to stay on course but sufficient freedom to innovate and express their creativity. This equilibrium is essential for sustaining high performance without stifling the creative spark that drives technological advancement. 

Effective integration of new members into these high-performance cultures is another critical aspect. Through extended peer mentoring and buddy systems, new team members can seamlessly become part of the team’s dynamic. This not only helps in upskilling but also in ensuring that the team’s culture of performance and innovation continues to thrive with each new addition. 

Metrics and Measurements: Key to Efficiency and Productivity 

It is imperative to define the right approach for assessing the efficiency and productivity of engineering teams which is core to the right product development. The “Say Do Ratio” is one of the most critical metrics that enables leaders to ensure team accountability for their commitments. Moreover, establishing a baseline for team productivity is essential to demonstrate to teams their potential especially in fulfilling their goals under challenging conditions. Building this 1:1 ratio fosters trust both across the team and with clients, while enabling more accurate forecasting of work. 

Team Configurations and Coaching: The Art of Success 

Setting up a product for success involves strategically configuring and coaching your team, a process that leans more towards art than science due to the human element involved. Understanding and leveraging the unique talents within the team is key. Team configuration is an important factor and using complementary rather than competitive skills often result in heightened productivity. For high-performing teams, harmonious collaboration is essential. It is essential for leaders to promptly identify and address personality conflicts to maintain team cohesion and chemistry, which are critical for successful project delivery. While it’s not necessary for team members to be close friends, professional cooperation and mutual support are imperative. This entails coaching and modelling the right mix of collaboration and trust, rewarding the desirable behaviors and discouraging counterproductive ones. In today’s remote first world and work environment, creating a sense of belonging through shared experiences and perspectives is vital for building connectivity and a shared sense of purpose among distributed teams.  

Agile Rituals and Ceremonies: Enhancing Engineering Processes 

The importance of agile rituals in product development cannot be overstated, as they are instrumental in enhancing team efficiency and ensuring a streamlined engineering process. Agile rituals provide a structured yet flexible framework that guides teams in adapting to changes quickly, promoting continuous improvement and fostering a collaborative work environment. Implementing these rituals effectively is key to building products correctly and efficiently. 

One of the best practices in this domain is fostering team autonomy. By allowing teams the freedom to customize agile ceremonies, they remain engaged and committed, provided they adhere to their say-do ratios. This balance of autonomy and accountability is crucial in maintaining productivity and meeting project goals. 

Additionally, innovative approaches like the adoption of cross-departmental continuous improvement challenges, similar in nature to hackathons, have proven to be highly effective. This strategy involves engineering teams in addressing challenges outside their usual domain, stimulating creativity and broadening their perspective. Turning these challenges into a friendly competition with appropriate incentives not only addresses complex business issues but also enhances team building and interdepartmental collaboration. This method effectively creates a dynamic work environment where problem-solving and team unity contribute to the overall success and growth of the organization. 

The journey to establishing a high-performance engineering culture in software product development, though challenging, is achievable through alignment on vision, mission and core values. Setting precise, motivating goals is fundamental to igniting high performance in teams. These elements should not just be theoretical but the driving force behind every action and decision.  

A heartfelt acknowledgment to the participants of our roundtable discussion, whose valuable insights and contributions have helped shape this article. We thank:

Implementing Generative AI in Healthcare: Strategies, Risks, and Operational Insights 

The advent of Generative AI in healthcare marks a pivotal shift in the industry, heralding a new era of technological advancement and innovation. As we stand at the cusp of this transformation, it’s imperative to grasp the full spectrum of possibilities that GenAI brings to the table.  

This article aims to unravel the intricacies of GenAI implementation, guiding healthcare organizations through the maze of choices and strategies available. From understanding the basic models of application to mastering frameworks for integration, we’re set to explore how GenAI can revolutionize customer interaction, operational efficiency and the overall landscape of healthcare services.  

Embarking on this journey requires not just a technological shift but a holistic reevaluation of operational, strategic, and human resource paradigms. Herein lies a roadmap for navigating this exciting yet complex terrain, where innovation meets practicality, and futuristic visions become tangible realities in healthcare. 

Watch Tarun’s talk on Implementing Generative AI in Healthcare from the Emids Healthcare Summit ’23

Implementation Flavors

The adoption of GenAI presents a range of implementation strategies, each tailored to fit different organizational needs and capabilities. As we delve into the specifics of these strategies, it’s crucial to understand the context and framework within which they operate.  

These models represent a spectrum of possibilities, from the simplest to the most complex, and offer insights into how healthcare organizations can navigate the evolving landscape of GenAI technology. 

Consume 

This is the most accessible approach for businesses. It involves leveraging pre-built applications powered by large language models (LLMs) such as GPT-4. This model is ideal for small to medium businesses or those new to GenAI, offering a low barrier to entry. This model is best for those looking to enhance existing processes or offer improved customer service through AI-driven chatbots, content generation, and automated workflows. 

Hybrid 

A blend of off-the-shelf solutions and customized applications, this approach appeals to businesses seeking a middle ground. Companies might use a base model from providers like OpenAI but customize it with their own data, tweaking it to suit specific business needs or to address unique market demands. This model allows for greater flexibility and differentiation from competitors who might also use off-the-shelf technologies. 

Native  

This is the most advanced and resource-intensive approach. Large enterprises or technology-focused companies might opt to develop their own LLMs and GenAI stack. This provides unparalleled customization and control over data and algorithms, making it ideal for businesses with unique needs that cannot be met with existing solutions. However, it requires significant investment in terms of money, time, and expertise. 

Choosing the Right Implementation Flavor 

Selecting the right approach depends on factors like budget, desired speed of deployment, security concerns, and the intended impact on business processes and customer experiences. Small businesses might prefer the ‘Consume’ model for its cost-effectiveness, while larger enterprises may lean towards the ‘Native’ model for its customization capabilities and data control. 

5 Point GenAI Framework

As you venture into the realm of GenAI, a structured and strategic approach becomes pivotal for successful integration.  

In this section we’ll introduce a 5 point framework, designed to guide organizations through the complexities of embedding GenAI into your products and services. This framework encompasses critical aspects such as financial planning, user experience redesign, risk management, operational maturity and workforce transformation. 

Each point in this framework addresses a fundamental area of focus, helping organizations mitigate associated challenges and adapt to the evolving technological landscape.  

Baseline Investment Appetite 

When contemplating the incorporation of GenAI the primary consideration should be to baseline your investment appetite. A common misconception is that integrating GenAI into existing web and mobile apps is as straightforward and cost-effective as attaching an API. However, the reality is far different. Deploying GenAI, especially models like GPT-4, can quickly become a significant financial commitment. 

For instance, consider an application with just 10,000 daily active users interacting ten times per day with a large language model like GPT-4. This scenario would result in around 100,000 daily transactions. While the daily costs might seem manageable at first glance, amounting to approximately $4,500, the annual expenditure escalates to about $1.6 million. This figure is substantial, even though it might be less than the cost of employing a team of machine learning engineers or developing a proprietary model. 

Therefore, it’s crucial to engage in thorough worst-case scenario planning.   

Reimagine UX Strategy 

The integration of GenAI demands a fundamental reimagining of your user experience (UX) strategy. Unlike traditional web and mobile app development, incorporating large language models (LLMs) introduces new complexities. These include potential latency issues due to internet-based API interactions and the inherent unpredictability of AI responses. 

LLMs are stochastic by nature; meaning their responses are probabilistic and not guaranteed to be consistent. This variability poses a challenge in maintaining a uniform user experience. However, as the technology matures, new frameworks are emerging to address these challenges. One notable example is guardrails ai, which allows developers to quantify expected responses from LLMs. If the response deviates from the anticipated outcome, a subsequent call can be made to adjust it. 

In addition to technical solutions, a significant aspect of reimagining UX involves adopting a ‘defensive UX’ approach. This approach involves designing systems that clearly communicate to users that they are interacting with AI. Major cloud providers and tech companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple provide guidelines and strategies for building AI-powered UX. These resources, including detailed papers and design strategies can be invaluable for teams looking to integrate GenAI into their web and mobile applications. 

Understand and Manage Risks  

Addressing and managing the risks associated with GenAI is a critical aspect of its implementation. While there are numerous potential risks, a few recurring ones are particularly noteworthy: 

  1. Bias in AI Responses: Since GenAI models are trained on vast datasets, they can inadvertently produce biased results. The exact composition of these datasets isn’t always transparent, leading to uncertainty in the AI’s responses. 
  1. Prompt Injection Attacks: Similar to the older concept of SQL injection attacks in databases, LLMs face the risk of prompt injection attacks. Here, the prompts can be manipulated or injected with certain inputs to make the AI respond in unintended ways. 
  1. Data Leaks and Confidentiality: When sharing sensitive or confidential company data with LLMs, there’s a risk of data leaks, potentially compromising important information. 
  1. Hallucinations: This refers to the AI providing convincing, grammatically correct, but factually incorrect responses. These ‘hallucinations’ can be particularly challenging as they often appear credible. 

To mitigate these risks, several strategies can be adopted: 

Understanding these risks and deploying appropriate strategies is essential for any organization looking to integrate GenAI into their operations. This ensures not only effective use of the technology but also safeguards against potential pitfalls. 

Mature your LLMOps Stack 

The fourth crucial aspect in effectively implementing GenAI is the maturation of your Large Language Model Operations (LLMOps) stack. As this field continues to grow, a plethora of tools are emerging, each designed to enhance the operational management of LLMs. These tools play a pivotal role in evaluating and refining the performance of your GenAI models based on various parameters such as cost, latency, parameter size, and the fine-tuning process. 

Key functionalities offered by these LLMOps tools include: 

  1. Prompt Management: This feature allows technical and non-technical staff, including product managers, to experiment with different prompts, observe the responses generated by the LLM, and understand the nuances of AI interactions. This exercise is crucial for fine-tuning the prompts to achieve the desired outcomes. 
  1. Version Control and Deployment: LLMOps tools facilitate versioning of these prompts, enabling you to maintain a history of changes and deploy the most effective versions directly through the LLMOps platform. 
  1. Performance Monitoring: Another critical feature is the ability to monitor the performance of your applications that utilize LLMs. This includes tracking the effectiveness of prompts and responses, as well as the overall impact on app functionality and user experience. 

The continuous evolution of the LLMOps space promises more advanced and diverse tools, making it increasingly vital for businesses to stay informed and adapt their LLMOps stack accordingly. By doing so, they can ensure their GenAI implementations remain efficient, cost-effective, and aligned with their operational goals and user expectations. 

Rebuild Workforce Plan 

The final key element in integrating GenAI into your organization is addressing the human angle: rebuilding your workforce plan. This goes beyond the technical aspects of GenAI and focuses on the evolving roles and skillsets required in a workplace increasingly driven by AI technologies. 

When deploying GenAI applications, whether in customer service or developer productivity, it’s essential to consider: 

  1. Role Evolution: How will existing roles transform with the introduction of GenAI? Understanding this will help in planning future organizational structures and functions. 
  1. Training and Skill Development: What new skills and training will your workforce need to adapt to these changes and continue to progress in their careers? As GenAI becomes more prevalent, the demand for skills in AI management and interaction will rise. 
  1. Career Progression: Consider how career paths might change with the integration of GenAI. This involves identifying new opportunities and career trajectories that GenAI can create for your employees. 

The process of rebuilding your workforce plan is not just about adapting to new technologies; it’s about preparing your human resources to thrive in an AI-augmented environment. This preparation includes upskilling, reskilling, and sometimes even creating entirely new roles to handle the unique challenges and opportunities that GenAI presents. 

In summary, while technical considerations like budgeting, UX strategy, risk management, and LLMOps are critical, equally important is the focus on the human aspect. Rebuilding your workforce plan in the context of GenAI is about harmonizing technology with human potential to ensure sustainable growth and innovation in your organization. 

Emids is here to support you on this journey. With our expertise in GenAI and healthcare technology, we can help you navigate these choices, ensuring that the integration of GenAI into your services and products is both seamless and impactful. Reach out to Emids and let us help you transform healthcare delivery with the power of Generative AI. 

Leveraging Generative AI for Enhanced Member and Patient Services

Generative AI is an emerging and exciting frontier with the capability to transform healthcare. Combining the realms of healthcare with artificial intelligence, particularly through the lens of GenAI can open the door to new and innovative solutions for care delivery and enhanced operational effectiveness. While the transformative potential of GenAI in healthcare is immense, it’s crucial to navigate its challenges and risks cautiously.  

Designing GenAI with the user at the center is key as well as ensuring that the technology is intuitive and builds a solid foundation of trust. It is also important to harness its capabilities to address ongoing healthcare disparities for a more equitable healthcare landscape. Utilizing this technology to generate insightful, data-driven analytics can significantly enhance decision-making and patient outcomes. 

It is imperative to acknowledge the ethical and regulatory challenges posed by GenAI. This involves ensuring patient privacy, securing data and upholding data ownership rights. 

There is a need to develop standards and policies that ensure its safe and ethical use. While GenAI is a powerful tool, we also have a responsibility to use it wisely. 

Utilize the Potential of Generative AI

How do companies utilize the potential of Generative AI for their organization, while also protecting their members and patients’ data?  

We heard some interesting insights on this from key tech leaders at the ‘New-Now Studio – Design roundtable discussion’ at the Emids Healthcare Summit 2023

With an eye toward innovation, ethics and improved patient outcomes, let’s delve into how GenAI empowers individuals by offering personalized health data for informed decision-making with payers and providers, how it can enhance clinical decisions by utilizing extensive data and streamline administrative tasks to boost efficiency, thereby helping in cost cutting and improved patient care.  

Consumer-Centric Approach

GenAI has redefined healthcare by leveraging data analysis to tailor treatment plans, predict health risks and recommend preventive measures, significantly enhancing patient outcomes. This pivotal shift emphasizes a consumer-centric approach, prominently demonstrated through the implementation of chatbots for customer service. The remarkable transformations driven by consumer-oriented AI solutions are evident as AI-powered customer service dramatically reduces call durations, boosting both efficiency and satisfaction levels.  

Moreover, the integration of virtual health assistants, empowered by GenAI, delivers personalized, real-time support, fundamentally elevating and personalizing the overall member experience in healthcare settings. Training AI models to aggregate data for streamlined customer service is a meticulous approach that emphasizes accuracy and prompt issue resolution, which notably reduces call volumes by 10-15%, resolving queries within an impressive 1-2 minutes. 

Mental Health Care: A Shift Towards AI and Agility 

The COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably served as a catalyst for change in the traditionally resistant mental health space, pushing it towards technological adaptation. One of the primary issues lies in accurately matching patients to the appropriate level of care and centralizing access to referrals. The traditional methods of patient assignment and referral management have proven to be inefficient and often lead to delays in treatment. 

AI can streamline the prior authorization process, effectively saving nurses’ valuable time that can be better spent on patient care. By automating the administrative tasks, healthcare providers can focus more on delivering quality care to their patients. 

AI goes beyond administrative tasks, rapidly comparing documents and uncovering crucial insights. In mental health care, it swiftly analyzes patient records, influencing treatment paths. Its role in document analysis is pivotal, focusing on enhancing user experience through responsive feedback mechanisms. Analyzing patient feedback enables healthcare providers to align services with patient needs and expectations effectively. 

Collaboration and Balancing Human Expertise 

AI is aimed at enhancing patient experiences, complementing rather than replacing human expertise, fostering a collaborative approach for optimal outcomes. Concerns arise about its potential to replace human decision-making and raises a concern of job security.  

Preserving the human element alongside AI advancements remains crucial for balanced, empathetic decision-making in healthcare and it is crucial to actively engage teams using AI to navigate this transition effectively, fostering a sense of trust and understanding that will help in product designing and future planning. 

Revolutionizing Patient and Member Experiences through Human-centered Design 

Human-centered Design prioritizes understanding patients’/members’ needs by directly engaging with them to grasp their challenges and processes. Amidst concerns about optimizing provider services and reducing medical costs, technology teams and CEOs are reminded to understand patient and member needs and use it to inform patient/member experiences. This approach enables the identification of key areas for improvement based on their primary concerns. 

Barriers to implementing GenAI

During the pandemic, behavioural health providers shifted from resisting technology as marginalized individuals struggled to access care. This led to a grassroots initiative, virtually connecting patients with suitable providers, streamlining referrals and care coordination. Tracking metrics such as wait times and satisfaction notably improved care delivery. 

Implementing GenAI faces significant barriers, notably trust and transparency. The challenge is not about imposing technology but ensuring its relevance to real healthcare needs. Uncertainty persists regarding responsibility for patient data understanding and the importance of data quality for effective AI outcomes. Overcoming these barriers require trust-building, genuine problem-solving and data clarity. 

As GenAI takes center stage in healthcare, successful integration requires thoughtful consideration and an emphasis on improved services, teamwork and retaining human skills. 

Special thanks to the participants of the roundtable discussion whose valuable insights and contributions have significantly enriched the content of this article:

Upscaling Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Practices in Healthcare

Accessible Healthcare for All

In today’s rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, the pursuit of excellence goes hand in hand with embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles. An inclusive healthcare system not only benefits patients and staff with diverse needs but also elevates the standard of care for all.

According to the World Health Organization, about 16% of the global population lives with a form of disability, representing a substantial segment of healthcare users. Regardless of disability type – whether permanent, temporary, situational, or age-related, access needs can arise for individuals utilizing healthcare services. Providing accommodation for individuals with visible disabilities is not enough, as not all disabilities are immediately visible. Overlooking these needs results in excluding a considerable number of healthcare users. For instance, a patient with hearing impairment may rely on captioning during virtual consultations or prefer chat-based communication over video or phone calls when interacting with healthcare providers. Recognizing these varied access needs underscores the necessity to establish inclusive healthcare platforms.

Bringing Inclusive Design Principles into the Healthcare Space

Inclusive design isn’t solely about accommodation; it’s about ensuring equitable access to healthcare services. From language interpretation services and culturally competent care to accessible facilities for people with disabilities. Inclusive design fosters an environment where all patients receive quality care, regardless of their ability, background, race, gender, and age.

Incorporating inclusive design principles into healthcare product and service development demands a deliberate effort to cultivate a culture deeply rooted in these principles. A notable framework, the Microsoft Inclusive Design Principles, encompasses three core elements: Recognize exclusion, learn from diversity, and solve for one, extend to many.

Recognize Exclusion

Recognizing exclusion is pivotal in understanding how sensory abilities play a crucial role in engaging with both digital and physical environments. Exclusion arises when design choices limit the use of senses for interaction, creating barriers for individuals. Addressing these limitations involves actively acknowledging and rectifying design elements that hinder inclusivity.

Learn from Diversity

Embracing diverse perspectives is fundamental to inclusive design. The lack of diversity in perspective excludes underrepresented voices and hinders innovation within healthcare products and services. Learning from diverse perspectives facilitates the identification of overlooked needs, allowing for more comprehensive solutions that benefit a wider range of users.

When we consider diversity among users of healthcare products and services, we will create multiple ways to offer healthcare services and give users the flexibility of interaction in a way that is most suitable and comfortable for them.

Solve for One, Extend to Many

Inclusive design surpasses mere accessibility, aiming to benefit all users. Focusing on developing products for individuals with permanent disabilities often leads to innovative solutions that enhance the experience for everyone. Designing with inclusivity at the forefront yields outcomes that positively impact the broader spectrum of users.

Paving the Way for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in Product Development

Accessibility is a vital part of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) practices, serving as the foundational step for inclusive product design and development. Accessibility ensures that people with disabilities have the necessary access to enjoy the same products and services as everyone else.

As Sheri Byrne-Haber aptly expressed, “Accessibility is NOT a problem to be solved; it’s a culture to be built.” This statement emphasizes that creating inclusive products becomes challenging without an inclusive mindset. Echoing the sentiment that “You can’t offer what you don’t have.” To foster an inclusive culture, integration of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) practices into product development is the way to go. Additionally, concerted efforts are needed to align the goals and objectives of designers, researchers, and developers, ensuring that accessibility remains a central consideration at every stage of product development. Moreover, facilitating continuous learning and empathy-building is pivotal to supporting inclusive practices. Finally, establishing effective feedback channels from customers, clients, and patients with disabilities is a key step toward ensuring responsiveness in creating accessible products and services that are usable by all.

At Emids, we are dedicated to continuously evolving our practices, advocating for inclusivity, and embracing diversity in all its forms. By upholding our values, we not only enhance the quality of care but also contribute to a more compassionate and equitable healthcare landscape for all.

Introducing the Role of the Digital Centaur

Emids as a thought partner is laser focused on digital transformation and the digital journeys of our clients and partners. During organizational transformation, leaders must consider the human side of the journey to position their teams and solutions to compete successfully in the new digital paradigm.

Emids has studied the concept of Humanology, where the human should be at the forefront of digital innovation in our industry. In our experience, an organizations’ Digital Maturity should include a focus on people resources and not on technology alone.

How do organizations address today’s need to retain the valuable people assets and talent required to navigate successfully through the pathways of digital transformation and digital competitiveness? Successful organizations are learning to balance technology and humanness. Emids offers an introduction to Digital Centaurs courtesy of our partners at FPOV.

Origin

While many are familiar with the term “centaur” from our study of Greek mythology, how many of us would be able to describe a “Digital Centaur” and describe where the terminology originated? To help bring some understanding to the term we need to step back in time when U.S. Military Forces observed they could not improve the standards of soldiers and pilots they produced despite the best of trainings. After an extensive deep dive, they concluded the only way to improve the quality of soldiers and pilots was by enhancing them with technology, and they invented this concept called the ‘Digital Centaur’. We were first introduced to the notion of a Digital Centaur by our friends at FPOV who have agreed to let us share this interesting concept with you.

Definition

A Digital Centaur is a human who has been enhanced and augmented with digital tools and is able to perform at a higher level than their peers because of the enhancement. The Digital Centaur balances the mastery of technology with advanced human maturity into a powerfully integrated ability to make progress wherever they place their focus.

What distinguishes a digital centaur from others?

While everyone can use digital tools, a centaur has found a way to optimize its use. Centaurs are incessant learners who are always on the hunt for new and innovative technology they can harness. They do not shy away from tools others may consider too complex or daunting to understand. They constantly question how new innovations will impact the work of others and provide new efficiencies in solving real world problems.

Centaurs continually look for personal and organizational improvement. They do not allow themselves to become stuck in a routine or a “This is how we have always done it” mentality. They see pathways to assist others in the organization embrace opportunities for improvement and they are skillful in the art of change management.

Centaurs find a healthy balance with technology. While they use digital tools effectively, they do not become overwhelmed by them and are able to properly function in non-digital environments, and in physical personal interactions with others.

Characteristics of a digital centaur - Emids

Human-centered approach

Future digital tools must be developed by people who understand human behavior. We cannot only consider the digital aspects of becoming a centaur. A minimization of what it means to be a human will lead to devastating consequences for our team members and our species. It will lead to increased burnout, adverse mental health conditions, and more. We, as an organization, can commit to helping our team members navigate the effects of becoming a centaur, both positive and negative.

A greater focus on digital wellness could include increased training on employee mental health. Organizations may periodically bring in experts to talk to the staff about digital well-being and how to have healthy digital interactions.

Organizations need to consider mental health resources within the organization, such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), to help strengthen employee mental well-being. Embracing the importance of mental wellbeing and incorporating whole person health into a program of wellness can lead to a reduction in anxiety and improve learning readiness.

Organizations may consider some of the following:

Organizations may consider helping team members, who are remote, separate their workspace from their living space. In a physical office, they may consider creating an inviting area where devices are not welcome, so team members can find a place where they are not constantly connected.

Building a centaur-model training program

Organizations must commit to developing a program to help team members understand what it means to be a centaur and how becoming one will increase their value within the organization, and within society. Successful program development will create a “Pathway to Centaurship.” This facilitates the team members’ navigation of the process of becoming centaurs. These programs are committed to guiding team members as effectively as possible on the journey of becoming a centaur, and they endeavor to build the appropriate culture and recognition to help centaurs thrive within the organization.

Building a digital workforce

Organizations have not focused on training team members on new digital tools after they are implemented, often omitting the training on the basic digital tasks required for success. Training can no longer be viewed as optional and must cross pollenate from IT to business domains.


Advanced training
must be considered for team members on new digital tools with learning incentives designed to acknowledge the skillset, and the new knowledge across the organization. Opportunities providing “micro-learning”, which is learning developed in smaller pieces, through multiple channels of learning, helps when large time commitments are not feasible. Continuing education and training must be intentional and not merely an afterthought designed to “check a box.”

Building new models for recruiting centaur talent

Attracting talent is certainly a challenge in the market today and likely will be for the near future. Today’s candidates seek more than salary and perks, they seek self-fulfilment and a sense of accomplishment with the daily contributions they make to their clients and firms. What will it take to recruit and retain the future Digital Centaurs?

Organizations will strive to hire people with the skills and desire to become Centaurs

They should drive this by considering talent with non-traditional skills, such as video game expertise, or those with proven entrepreneurial or content creation skills such as successful podcasters and bloggers.

HR and leadership teams will not limit themselves to the traditional when hiring talent

Organizations need to be proactive in building a pipeline toward potential talent. This could include partnering with universities and colleges to develop a technology internship program or building relationships with professors who can help locate rising stars to employ.

Organizations will work to improve the interviewing process

Interviewing styles and questions will need to reflect the centaur-first mentality more adequately. This includes incorporating technology, business challenges, and gamification into the interviewing process to examine the centaur skills of potential hires more accurately.

Organizations will strive to improve the onboarding process

Onboarding processes should accommodate new learning styles to acclimate new centaur hires more quickly and effectively. This might include the creation of a meticulous 100-day onboarding plan.

Organizations will develop a Digital Employee Persona Model

Develop specific digital journeys that help each persona type grow toward becoming a centaur or increase their digital skills.

Organizations will build a library of content

Design the content to help with the onboarding process, including videos to introduce new hires to the organization and its leadership, persona cards that showcase team members’ skills, and visual digital backbone blueprints that help people understand the organization’s processes and systems.

Organizations will work to create more gamified onboarding processes

Playing to the talents and learning styles of centaurs expose new hires to more components and people within the organization, not just those that they will be directly involved with on a day-to-day basis.

Incentivize innovation generation

Creating a centaur development roadmap

A centaur development roadmap is much like organizations have traditionally used to design leadership programs. However, a centaur development roadmap is focused on digital skills and crosses departments throughout the organization. This cross-departmental training will help people have different experiences across IT and the business. It will help team members experience different perspectives and roles across the organization. Non-linear career development will help team members become more versatile and increase their value to the organization.

A centaur development roadmap may also require creating a senior role within the organization that can act as a bridge between technology and the business. This person will have the responsibility of working with department leaders to fully utilize the technology provided to them and would be measured by his or her ability to pull value from the technology. Leaders need to consider creating a “Mentaur Program” within the organization. This program would pair centaur citizens and centaur leaders as mentors to newly hired potential centaurs.

What’s in it for your organization?

While digital transformation is defined as the effective use of the organization’s technology and solutions, successful transformation involves much more. At the core of digital transformation, we must become more human, not less.

The notion that “technology is the solution for everything” in an organization, is narrow minded. Technology cannot fix human connections and community, customer engagement and personalization. Without human-centric-thinking people, there is no innovation, no strategy, no connections with customers. People may forget about how cool the gadget was but they’ll remember how supported and understood the person made them feel.

If your organization would like to discuss the impact of designing a program to embrace and adopt the Digital Centaur program please reach out for more information on how Emids can help. Our Digital Maturity Assessment provides insight to your level of Digital Maturity in contrast to your competitors, which can be the single most significant factor in your long-term success.

Takeaways, Trends and Prognostications from Summit ‘22 

If I had to choose one word to encapsulate the 2022 Emids Healthcare Summit, it’s change. From reverting back to an in-person gathering after three years of meeting remotely, to being purposeful about creating an event that’s reflective of the direction we hope healthcare is moving (more on that later), to a shift in attendees’ moods that I attribute to a deeper level of vulnerability and empathy with one another, it’s undeniable that things have changed for us all on a personal and an industry level. It feels like we’re beginning to see the light at the end of the post-pandemic tunnel. And while a new year will bring new and different challenges, we’re confident that we can continue to successfully navigate the changing landscape and demonstrate category leadership if we remain flexible and our approaches to moving healthcare forward are diverse.

In many ways, we’re still grappling with implications from COVID, and paired with a recession that’s forecasted for 2023, much of the conversation that took place last November was centered around how to adequately prepare for and weather strong economic headwinds. This was particularly true during our Tech Forum, which hosted senior technology leaders for intimate, closed-door working groups. Discussions held during the Forum parlayed into the following day’s Healthcare Summit, and nearly all sessions were framed by the uncertain economic future.  

Three topics I heard discussed with overwhelming prevalence throughout the Summit were addressing the staffing crisis, how to enhance the member/consumer/patient experience without burdening end users with cost and how to democratize the wealth of data we have at our fingertips. 

Staffing shortage 

Our Shaping New Talent Solutions session focused on planning for the imminent capacity challenge, but the hard truth is, healthcare – along with many other industries – has faced a historic lack of staff for months (in July, U.S. News & World Report cited the shortage of healthcare employees as “the nation’s top patient safety concern”), and the fallout is just beginning to be felt. With less available personnel, patients are increasingly accessing healthcare in non-traditional settings. This is forcing the hand of providers to get creative about creating capacity and harnessing the power of available technology. Artificial intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing are bridging gaps in services across the board – from scheduling and patient encounter follow-up communications to robotic surgeries. Concerning cost, we need to keep our eye on the long game as upfront costs for tech investment will undoubtedly show ROI. 

Emphasis on experience 

When talking about staffing constraints in traditional healthcare settings, we’d be remiss not to address the abundance of new retail health market entrants (Amazon, Walgreens, Walmart and others) and the choices they’ve afforded to consumers. Facing a shortage of physicians, but a growing number of options for how and where to seek care, healthcare entities will fight for patient acquisition and loyalty. This will be especially prominent in mental and behavioral health, as utilization in these verticals will presumably increase as the economy worsens. As healthcare companies implement new strategies to bring patients in the door – and keep them coming back – they’ll need to be mindful about not passing costs onto their already cash-strapped customers.  

Data usage 

In the past few years, we’ve gotten savvy about how we collect and use data to improve how we cater to end users, and that data intelligence will continue to get more sophisticated as we put an emphasis on up-leveling experience. The biggest improvement will be in data liquidity. We have an immense amount of data at our disposal. To unlock its full potential, it’s a matter of ensuring all appropriate parties have secure access to it. Of course, we’ll have to navigate more seamless data sharing while curbing spend.  

Another trend I anticipate that we’ll see this year is increased consolidation industry-wide, fueled by mergers and acquisitions. Consolidation activity has been fairly stagnant, remaining below pre-pandemic levels, but as companies forgo IPOs in favor of snapping up market share, and as the shift to value-over-volume is more readily embraced, we can expect to see an uptick in the number of M&A deals executed. 

I can’t properly reflect on Summit or surmise what the future of healthcare will hold without touching on diversity. Earlier I alluded to our organization being intentional about representing what we hope to see more of in our industry. We carefully crafted the event with diversity in mind, exemplified by the speaker representation on our Creating Health panel, down to instrumental variation in the music that was played throughout the two days. Progress is not possible without change, and I can confidently say that we’re practicing what we preach by embracing healthcare’s evolution while paving the way for our customers to do the same.