“Are you thinking about your customer’s journey, your customer’s experience?”
In early June, TELUS launched the Digital ThinkTank Innovation Series, connecting business leaders and IT executives in roundtable discussions to share insights and learn from each other’s experiences. The first session was attended by senior IT executives from the pharmaceutical, wholesale, retail and not-for-profit sectors.
The evening began with Karim Ramji, CIO of Kinark, Ontario’s largest child and youth service agency, describing the comprehensive multi-year digital transformation his organization has been undergoing.
Serving over 10,000 youth and children dealing with complex mental health issues, autism, forensic mental heal and youth justice, Kinark is also a lead agency in Ontario, providing processes and information to other agencies in the province. However, it was using legacy phone and computing systems that were old and had limited ability to scale. It was also focused on “keeping the lights on” and its clients and caregivers were way ahead of the organization in terms of technology.
This resulted in a gap between its technical capabilities and the technical know-how of the youth and children it serves. As Ramji put it, “If I want to know what’s going on with my kid today, I text her.” This meant Kinark needed far more than just new computers and mobile and office phone systems. It needed to get devices and information into the hands of its clinicians enabling them to better serve their clients.
Kinark’s CIO looked to deliver a completely new digital strategy that would enable them to be client-centric. Kinark also recognized that it was not in the business of delivering technology and had a strong desire to be infrastructure-free, leading to a search for partners that would enable this client-centric approach.
Today, all of Kinark’s communications, including its call centre, are secure cloud-based, connecting its people, processes and data. Their 7-person IT department now operates as if it had hundreds of team members, thanks to going near-infrastructure-free and relying on a strong technology partner. As a result, 20 people across Ontario can take calls almost anywhere, at home or on mobile devices, making it much easier for patients to reach out.
The agency is also working to creating a holistic digital health record in support of quality care since:
The sobering reality in children’s mental health is that suicide is the second largest cause of death in Canada among 10 – 24 year olds, and that 20% of youth with mental health disorders don’t get the help they need
Over 80% of children with mental health issues will end up in the emergency room at some point, often one that is not associated with the healthcare centre they usually visit
Patients who are admitted after seeing an emergency clinician can wait days for their health records to catch up with them
This theme of empowering customers and designing the organization’s digital transformation around client needs, resonated strongly with the audience. One executive called it “connecting with a purpose.” Whether you’re running a not-for-profit that has significant fundraising needs, a wholesaler with customers around the world, a pharmaceutical company continually developing new drugs or a retailer looking for new ways to thrive in a digital world, the customer has changed and businesses have to change too. “It’s not just the millennials,” said one executive. “Kids in Grade 2 are coding!”
“You can’t say ‘I’m not technical,’ because your customer is,” said Ramji.
The executive discussion covered a wide range of other topics, including change management, getting buy-in from boards, attracting talent and enabling “safe to fail” projects to drive effective digital transformation.