We’ve been sharing insights from the 3/10 #HITsm twitter chat. So far, we’ve worked to define Digital Transformation, identify characteristics of a successful DX project, and discuss key components of DX projects. Now that we’ve got a handle on what we’re trying to accomplish, let’s turn our attention to a core concern for many of those spearheading DX: Digital Transformation Roadblocks and Challenges.

Technical Debt

Technical debt refers to the small coding flaws that build up over years of development. In some instances, the rush to finish any given project leads to corner cutting. In other cases, it might not be clear to IT how certain coding choices could give rise to problems over time. All of these small inefficiencies add up. They make changing your code a bigger project than it should be, and coupling systems more complex. The result is that when planning a DX project, you have to free up enough capacity to handle your “debt load” in order to tackle something new.


While healthcare isn’t the only industry plagued by this problem, the fact that we address life or death situations and unique privacy issues makes it a pervasive one. “Healthcare is just different,” is a phrase often used to stifle change. “We’ve always done it this way,” is another frustrating refrain when you’re a firm believer that DX will increase security and the timely flow of information. Even if your organization is fully behind a project, this issue can extend to vendors and other partners, as well, making it difficult to integrate workflows.


Because maintaining patients’ privacy is so vital to Healthcare industry, organizations struggle with issues of data use and data consolidation. As we mentioned earlier in this series, data consolidation can reduce costs substantially, but many healthcare professionals default to the worry that change will, by its very nature, render data insecure. Addressing HIPAA concerns is vital in order to build trust and promote adoption. Making sure key players understand privacy laws is also necessary in order to move forward from this issue.


Digital Transformation is a complex process with many moving pieces. Couple that with the aforementioned privacy concerns, and your company may end up making decisions based on (sometimes groundless) fears. When this behavior becomes entrenched, disruption comes to be seen as what chat participant Steve Sisko called “a mass-extinction event.” Obviously, this can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Companies that stand still in the middle of the road are going to get run over. But no organization needs to “go extinct” from analysis paralysis. Instead, work to define and measure smaller strategic milestones. Celebrate them when they’re reached. And above all, keep going.


Fear doesn’t just hinder Digital Transformation, it negatively affects culture. Employees worry that their jobs might change or even vanish. But instead of taking initiative or working collaboratively, personnel entrenched in fear-based thinking dig in their heels and tightly grip their own small patches of turf. The host of the Twitter chat, AAJ’s VP of Digital Transformation Murray Izenwasser has always said that his biggest competitor over the years has been “Do nothing.” This culture of avoidance can be very stressful for C-suite leadership. After all, jobs are in more jeopardy when DX doesn’t happen, not less, and C-suite has to make the hard decisions. It’s no fun to watch someone you’ve worked with for years frighten themselves into obsolescence. This is why changing culture is so very important to the DX process.

While voicing concerns  about obstacles can be a relief, it’s important to keep in mind that these issues are usually the flipsides of positive change we’re trying to enact. When we move past our frustration to examine and understand the causes of these roadblocks, we improve our chances of overcoming them.

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