conference attendees waiting

Dreamforce 2019: Key Themes in Healthcare Innovation

conference attendees waiting

Dreamforce 2019: Key Themes in Healthcare Innovation

Four major themes from the world’s largest tech conference

At Dreamforce, the “world’s largest technology conference,” innovators, industry leaders, and daily users gathered to exchange ideas and learn the latest innovations from the world’s leading customer success platform, Salesforce. The expectations for the reliably over-the-top show are always set high. And this year, like most, those expectations were met with a week of the world’s leading technology innovators sharing how they are creating stronger relationships with customers and other stakeholders in their organizations.

With a conference like Dreamforce, it’s easy to get lost amongst all the incredible content. Across all the speakers, workshops, and concerts, we’ve gathered our team’s top four themes for this year’s Dreamforce.

The best, most innovative solutions also require transparency and inclusion

This year’s keynote speakers, including President Barack Obama, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and of course, Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff. Benioff’s keynote always sets the tone for Dreamforce, with product announcements and challenges to leadership mixed with social commentary. This year was no exception.

Benioff challenged technology leaders to embrace the “fourth technological revolution,” which focuses on marrying the innovations of the last few decades (AI, CRM, and the dozens of additional engagement data points) into a “single source of truth“ for customer engagement.

For social commentary, in addition to giving up time to protesters, Benioff encouraged other leaders to adopt his philosophy of working to benefit and enrich all stakeholders in the organization, not just shareholders.

Obama and Cook’s keynotes both touched on the importance of inclusion, youth empowerment, and finding a higher purpose than just profits in business. Salesforce helped pioneer the Pledge 1% movement, which Bridge Connector has been a part of since our first year in business. The principal of the model is to give back a portion of profits, time, and product to organizations working to improve the world and communities that we benefit from doing business in.

If all of this doesn’t get you excited about the power of technology to transform people’s lives and the way we do business, then the next three themes probably will.

Watch out healthcare: Big tech is coming

Americans spend more of the country’s gross domestic product on healthcare than comparable nations and still experience the worst care outcomes. You’d be hard-pressed to find an industry that is more ripe for technological disruption.

“It’s almost 2020 and Teslas are nearly driving themselves. Yet doctors are communicating with each other and sharing information with each other using fax machines,” as Dr. Ashwini Zenooz, Salesforce’s SVP of healthcare and life sciences said during a session on Wednesday. Salesforce wants to leverage the power of its platform to remove barriers to innovation and create a better technology ecosystem for healthcare.

Imagine health insurance companies using advanced machine learning algorithms to predict a patient’s needs and conducting outreach using this information. Or the idea that other healthcare organizations are able to use patient data to offer individuals more personalized and preemptive therapies or treatments. “Wherever you are in your journey,” Zenooz said, “we want to help you get there.” And Health Cloud is a tool that they believe can help healthcare organizations reach these goals — in spite of its fax machine use.

Zenooz predicted the next decade in healthcare will be a bumpy ride with “changing demographics, different pricing models and — significantly — interoperability.” Data has to be freed from its silos to move with the patient, similar to the consumer journey in any other industry, she said.

And if the healthcare industry can’t navigate these necessary changes quickly enough, several Salesforce leaders warned there are plenty of tech companies, from startups to well-known companies, who are already lining up to do the bidding. In 2018 alone, healthcare saw $11.3 billion in venture capital investments.

To make many of these innovative health IT companies or products more valuable, including any CRM or engagement platform actionable, integration partners must be enlisted to populate the designated SSOT platform with the necessary EHR and other third-party platform data for a more holistic view of patient care. Bridge Connector shared the stage with Salesforce and Mulesoft in a panel session about exactly that on Friday, “Emerging Approaches to Interoperability: APIs, Middleware and more.

As Sean Kennedy, Senior Director, Industry Solutions Architect, Salesforce, and panel moderator stressed, the historical lack of interoperability has created a tangled web of disconnected systems and “change takes time.” But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t vendors ready to face the challenge head-on and remove integration as a barrier to innovation.

It takes a village

There is a long list of companies who understand the power of Salesforce to transform the healthcare industry — and they want “in” on its partnership economy. One, because of the company’s rapid success, growth, and market dominance among SaaS solutions. Two, because healthcare is unique from other industries in that it requires more partnerships to move the needle toward innovation and progress.

For too long, strict regulations, conflicting standards, political battles among legacy systems, and huge integration expenses have historically contributed to the disparity that is so often seen in healthcare. More often than not, and perhaps even unbeknownst to many consumers, healthcare IT is a hot mess of disconnected systems.

Dreamforce_Middleware_Session
Credit: Excerpt from Dreamforce session on middleware.

 

The lack of interoperability has been identified as one of the biggest problems and barriers to innovation that needs to be addressed in healthcare in the U.S.

It will certainly take a village of innovators to change this status quo for good in healthcare, and this village will house tech behemoths that are entering from the outside.

Consumerization is motivation for innovation

What happens when consumers have a great experience somewhere? That great experience becomes the expectation everywhere. How different would healthcare be if patients were treated like customers as well, with a focus placed on having a great experience? You know something is not quite right when you can sit the waiting room of a provider’s office, order groceries to be delivered, check on all your packages, reschedule your haircut, and then have to fill out the same information on a paper clipboard as you did the last time you were there.

The idea of allowing users to “connect, authenticate and govern customer data and identity across the customer relationship management platform” Salesforce users effectively create the SSOT that has been the elusive “computer science holy grail” thus far, according to Benioff, gaining a better understanding of their customers at the same time.

Now, how do we apply this idea to improve the customer or patient experience in healthcare?

We have some ideas for organizations to put their data to work to achieve this, starting with using scheduling technology to give patients more freedom and choices, allowing paperwork to be sent electronically to patients ahead of time, and making sure data platforms are connected so providers can have complete patient data during their actual visit, just for starters. (Read more in our guide.)

Amidst all the fun — and there is a lot that, especially if you are into kazoo parades — Salesforce proved to Dreamforce attendees once again that they are changing the way companies do business by “bringing companies and customers together.”

We left with a clear picture of Salesforce vision, not just for healthcare, but for an ecosystem of business leaders focused on stakeholders, businesses focused on customers, and all of us focused on using technology to make a better world for everyone.