The Road to Digital Health Transformation: Are We There Yet?

Digital front doors … Data visualization … Patient pathways … and Chimeras. These were just a few of the topics we discussed during our 8/13/21 Campfire Chat with Christina Campo from Scripps Health, Therese Lockemy from Johns Hopkins Medicine, and our former colleague at Hailey Sault, Brittney Hanson, Director of Digital.   

Read below for highlights or watch the replay video. And sign up below to get notified of our next Campfire Chats webinars.

Ah, the road to digital transformation. Cruising down the information superhighway with the top down, wind whipping through your hair, and nothing but open roads and music blaring as you make your way to that coveted destination. 

I’m sure that’s your exact experience leading and implementing digital transformation projects at your health care organization, right? 

If your experience has felt more like a journey of endless winding roads rather than getting to a destination, you’re not alone. Whether you’re part of a large team or a department of one, digital transformation is an ongoing process. During our Campfire Chat, we checked in with our colleagues at Scripps Health and Johns Hopkins Medicine to find out what’s on their To Do List, and what data puzzles they’re solving these days as they advance their transformation initiatives. 


The fundamental business of health care hasn’t changed since its inception: caring for people who are sick or need medical care. How we deliver that care has, of course, evolved. Same goes for our digital transformation efforts. Most of us are still addressing the same issues and opportunities we’ve been addressing throughout our careers:

  • Driving patients to seek care solutions
  • Filling lines of business and service lines that have capacity and can support new patient acquisition
  • Growing brand affinity

How we’re addressing these perennial challenges is evolving, though. Digital transformation projects are increasingly addressing opportunities such as:

  • Improving and enhancing patient experience
  • Identifying the nuances and needs of diverse patient populations
  • Connecting data points
  • Structuring and streamlining patient pathways to care solutions

During our webinar, Therese addressed that it’s not just the technology that is part of the transformational change—cultural transformation within our organizations is trending, too.  

Those of us who have worked in health care—especially larger organizations—know the challenges of working in silos: departments working independently to problem-solve. Yet, if there’s a silver lining in this time of COVID-19, it’s that health care organizations have removed those unnecessary barriers, allowing different departments to work more collaboratively on shared goals and desired outcomes.

Christina shared how beneficial it’s been for her and her marketing colleagues to work directly with clinical leaders and IT counterparts on shared goals such as improved patient experience: from online appointment scheduling to patient care communications.

Which brings us to Chimeras.



What is a “Chimera,” you ask?

It’s a mythological creature that has a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail … and according to Christina, it’s what we need more of in digital marketing. 

The thinking is, our digital transformation efforts today blur the lines between traditional marketing, IT, and clinical practice. Take patient experience, for example. On one hand, digital marketing can help drive prospective patient engagement and demand for a service line or product line. But what happens next? Well, that’s often the role of IT to develop the infrastructure necessary to support online appointment functionality. But what happens after that prospective patient books an appointment? Then it’s up to the clinical leader to ensure that the patient has a great experience. The old model had each of these three departments functioning almost independently: marketing did its thing, IT did its thing, and clinical teams did their thing. 

But working independently can quickly lead to gaps in the patient experience. 

Digital transformation in health care is rooted in the intersectionality of all these disciplines, and finding better ways to engage and create better experiences for patients and customers alike. 

That’s why you need Chimeras: people who understand the needs, perspectives, and even the language of different departments and functions. As Christina said, “We used to dismiss people who were ‘Jacks of all trades, but master of none,’ but now we’re realizing there is great value in generalists … and people who can communicate, project-manage and collaborate with colleagues with different backgrounds.”

Health care consumers have high expectations of their experiences with brands. They’re used to Amazon, Apple and other tech giants creating great online experiences. Digital transformation is quite often the process of seeking to enable technology to deliver outstanding experiences for patients. 

But technology, while lovely, doesn’t always work “as advertised.” 

If you’ve struggled to leverage new digital technology to achieve your business and strategic goals, then know this: you’re not alone.

Speaking of mythological creatures, Brittney asked Christina and Therese if there is such a thing as a “perfect dashboard”—AKA, a unicorn. 

Short answer: no. 

There’s no one size fits all approach to dashboards. But our panelists all agreed that setting the right goals up front in a digital marketing effort furthers the ability to develop tracking for the right data, which can lead to the right results. 

One of the keys to effective digital transformation journeys is to leverage the data you currently have to drive business decisions. 

Tools like Data Studio, Datorama and Snowflake are closing data gaps and enabling better insights that lead to improved campaign performance and user/patient experience. In our experience, most digital transformation projects begin with a clear identification of how data will be sourced, the trustworthiness of that data, and what insights we seek to glean from the data. In other words, we seek to avoid GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out. There will always be data gaps in health care, with “more noise than signal” than any of us prefer. After all, health care is a complex system. 

That can be overwhelming, if not downright frustrating. But Therese, Christina and Brittney offered insights on how they manage their digital transformation efforts, which can be of service to you.


“Try, learn, and go on a roadshow,” Christina advised. She advocates creating pilot projects: initiatives that may have promise, but are not mission-critical and do not have high visibility within the organization. Conduct a trial effort and glean learnings. From there, conduct a “roadshow” with your colleagues: share what you learned and how those learnings could be applied at a larger scale within the organization. This approach builds advocacy with colleagues and positive momentum to scale future initiatives with support and enthusiasm. 

Therese shared the philosophy of her marketing leader, Suzanne Sawyer, who encourages the team to create road maps for digital transformation efforts, and other marketing initiatives. Simplicity is the solution to complex problems. By diagramming the desired future state, and documenting clearly the steps to take, we make progress on those large-scale initiatives like digital transformations. 

Brittney repeated our mantra at Hailey Sault: “Test and learn.” We advocate testing our hypotheses in the marketplace in small, controlled settings, to learn what messages, platforms, and conversion-based experiences work best to drive the desired outcome. In turn, use the findings to optimize the campaign and design experience to achieve better outcomes.  


If there’s a “silver lining” to COVID-19, it’s that health care organizations have never worked more collaboratively. It was a requirement in the early days of the pandemic. Turns out, people really enjoy working with colleagues in different departments on common goals.

But working in a cross-functional team scenario isn’t without challenges: primarily, ensuring that the words we use, and their meanings, are shared universally. Christina advocates creating “Data Dictionaries,” so that when marketing, IT, finance, clinical and others are collaborating, they all agree on what “engagement” means, or a “conversion.” 

If you’re just beginning your digital transformation project and want to get everyone on the same page, or are feeling stuck on your efforts, then perhaps it’s worth checking in with your team: are you all in alignment with your success definitions? 

That sounds simple, I know. But remember what Therese said: “Digital transformation isn’t just what we’re doing, it’s how we’re doing it.” 

Working smarter, more collaboratively, and more inclusively, is a hallmark to digital transformations that actually get to the promised land. 

Do you like learning new things and connecting with fun, smart people? Then you should sign up to be notified of our next Hailey Sault Campfire webinars: they’re lively video conversations without the boring bullet point slides. Sign up below to be notified of the next Campfire and get early access to our latest thinking and strategies on how to create human connections with health care marketing. 

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