Redeapp’s GM of Advisory Justin Rudwell recently contributed to TOOLBOX hr, discussing the convergence of compliance and innovation in Long Term Care. This post is a reprint of the full article. Content has been edited for clarity.
Technology executives and managers have an increasingly strategic role in adopting innovative technologies that support non-desk workers in the healthcare sector. Satisfying operational needs while limiting compliance risk requires smart design and a collaborative bent. In this article, Justin Rudwell, general manager, Red e App, explores how technology plays a central role in the harmonious coexistence between compliance and innovation.
The Dance Between Compliance and Innovation
It is the human-generated risks that keep executives awake at night, which in turn can cause them to lean heavily on their legal and compliance functions to avoid potential catastrophe. As described in detail in the white paper, Strange Bedfellows – The Convergence of Compliance and Innovation in Long Term Care, this deference to legal and compliance departments can create a culture of fear and avoidance of perceived risk that comes with the introduction of new technologies.
This fear can often present itself in the form of restrictive business processes that only serve to make the jobs of frontline or non-desk workers more difficult. This, in turn, can lead to behaviors that ironically create more risk, such as operational workarounds. The fact remains. In the absence of supportive tools built to enable workers and empower leaders, people will still find a way of doing their jobs. Writing a set of rules is the easy part and might protect the company in the short term bypassing liability down the line. But by not considering complementary technology to help non-desk workers do their jobs, companies are doing themselves and their workforce a great disservice. So how did we get here?
Where new medical tools and technologies that directly allow for better patient outcomes are a no-brainer, equal consideration has not always been given to investment in technology that supports the needs of the non-desk workforce. While the front office has received many support upgrades over time — desktop computing, email, software — support for the non-desk worker has lagged. Why is this the case? Until recently, communication, workflow, and process support for non-desk workers have been mostly manual and paper-based. Think face-to-face communication, breakroom bulletin boards, and clipboards. Investment in supportive technology to replace these outdated methods of communication and management has not been seen as a strategic prerogative.
Increasingly, however, organizational leaders are understanding the commercial benefits of digitally connecting non-desk workers and creating equity in access to key information, supportive tools, and the like. Not only do today’s digital natives expect more, but the use of mobile platforms that connect the non-desk workforce can actually drive productivity, increase retention through organizational alignment, and reduce operational risk.
The Importance of Smart Design
Let’s assume you are ready to invest in a technology platform that will directly support your non-desk workers. Where to begin? Well, nearly everyone carries a smartphone, so a mobile infrastructure is already in place. The next step is to think about desired business outcomes and the solutions available that can deliver those outcomes. Because the needs of the non-desk worker have rarely been considered in the same way as desk workers, solution design for this segment of the workforce has also lagged behind.
Consider the design of readily available mobile communication platforms that people use in their daily lives. Most have been designed with social connectivity in mind rather than a work-based need. Texting, or applications that mimic this functionality, normally rely on individual users to manually manage groups or monitor usage. They do not typically provide additional tools or forms that would support a worker, such as a library of human resource documentation or process workflows for training. Most do not offer an ability to report on or analyze the data that flows through their platform, nor are they necessarily secure from malware, phishing attacks, and the like.
When organizations do not provide a sanctioned platform that is secure, compliant, and fit-for-purpose, non-desk workers will fall back on tools that are readily available to do their jobs. This exposes organizations to unnecessary risk and informs the mindset of legal and compliance departments, thereby limiting the appetite for the introduction of technologies that would actually help to solve this very issue.
Corporate technology leaders and operational innovators have a critical role to play as organizations make the inevitable transition toward the digitization of the non-desk workforce. Innovators can bridge the gap between departments that might normally be at odds, such as operations or communications and legal or compliance. The truth is, the platforms designed for and can be flexed to achieve business outcomes can meet the needs of all concerned. They are out there. Seek, and ye shall find.
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