Gary Long’s driving of digital strategy has seen the business embrace leading-edge technology to provide clinical services, connect and then integrate the provision of medical care in clients’ homes. He has moved IT from a back-office function to core business enabler and mechanism, with the development of CRM to link prescription management systems to omnichannel patient communications and digital record updating.

Job title
CIO

How are you influencing the products, customer experience and services your organisation offers to its customers?
Healthcare at Home (HaH) is the UK’s leading provider of clinical care in the home, with over 1,500 employees caring for hundreds of thousands of people a year. Partnering with health systems and pharmaceutical companies, we continue to develop innovative models of care that meet the needs of people with a wide range of conditions, outside of the hospital environment. Healthcare at Home has one core philosophy: the patient comes first. Every member of our team, from specialist nurses to drivers, have the same focus, the patient comes first, dedicated to delivering the best possible care for patients – the people we serve.

Founded in 1992 with the aim of enhancing the way in which care is provided for patients, Healthcare at Home is the UK’s pioneer of clinical homecare. Since then, we have provided clinical homecare to four million people, combining excellence in nurse-led patient support, pharmacy and distribution of medicine with an in-depth understanding of patient care pathways, generating data and insight for our payors – adding value across the entire clinical pathway.

I have driven our digital strategy at Healthcare at Home and as a result, our business is now embracing leading edge technology to provide clinical services, connect and then integrate the provision of medical care to the thousands of people we care for at home. In 2.5 years, I have moved IT from a back office function to core business enabler and mechanism. Natalie Douglas, CEO of Healthcare at Home, and one of the UK’s most influential health leaders regards me as a “trusted advisor for business change”.  

At our annual conference in January I presented the vision of our technology-enabled business to over 1500 employees. Our face to face clinical services are being augmented by new digital solutions and remote, virtual care. The sessions were extremely well received. Exit comments from conference attendees rated the technology-enabled zone highest overall for engagement & insight.

Two sample quotes from attendees:

  • “It’s an exciting time to be a part of HaH – new technology is being introduced all the time and the company is aware of current and future technology which could be used to hugely benefit our patients.”
  • “... a great presentation demonstrating how digital technology is going to enhance our service offerings in 2017 and in to the future. So proud to be a member of this team!”

Define the key business outcomes that you have delivered over the last 12 months and their impact on your organisation’s performance
Since 2015, with a turnover of £1.4bn our business profitability has risen by over 200%. My team has implemented new clinician systems (Clicksoftware) to enable in home treatment support information and productivity. These new systems have also enabled the innovative development of CRM (Dynamics) to link prescription management systems to Omni-channel patient communications and digital record updating.

We have also implemented O365 to improve remote communications and access to a largely mobile (60%) field-based clinical staff. We have re-insourced our Pharma supply and distribution supply chain, enabled by cloud-based planning and transport systems plus hand-held digital technology for our drivers. Future initiatives for 2017 include interoperability with NHS systems to integrate patient management even more tightly. In addition to productivity, growth and cost savings generated from these initiatives have set firm foundations for scalable growth.

What has been your involvement with innovation at your organisation – in particular, with products, business model and technology – over the last 12 months?
Product innovation is really “Service Innovation” in our business across a range of stakeholders. The primary being to NHS patients; secondly to care commissioning bodies and thirdly to pharma businesses (suppliers & clients). I lead the digital strategy across all our services and ensure our business technology performs effectively and supports the needs of these different stakeholder groups. I am also a lead innovator of our business model, as we move from a reactive resource and traditional supply chain business, responding to contracts and care regimes, to become a more proactive, digitally enabled, and demand-driven business.

In late 2015 I developed our ‘Platform 2020’ strategy which outlined key recommendations around the business technology landscape and capabilities that are transforming our systems and infrastructure today. This strategy continues to evolve in 2017.

How have you delivered cultural and behavioural change as a CIO within the IT department and/or more broadly across the organisation?
In 2014, the IT department at Healthcare at Home was purely a support function, with a reporting line to the Finance Director. The leadership team recognised the need to embrace new technology with specific leadership experience.

Following my appointment, I reviewed the operation’s strengths and weaknesses, while establishing good relationships with all functional leaders. We spent time developing strong and shared goals for their business capabilities and processes. This enabled me to identify a new set of technology enabled capabilities that would deliver benefits across different teams.

In early 2016 I was appointed to the Business Executive leadership team as a functional head and lead the digital and business change forums. I then integrated the IT function to include our BI/Analytics teams which enabled the information value aspects of our data to be more easily understood and leveraged. I also placed more emphasis on working collaboratively with our vendors, to improve architecture competencies and project/programme management. (In 2016 we implemented a cross function PMO to coordinate change planning).

Much of my time has been spent directly with my team to support their skills development. We are sharing experiences from leading edge businesses (from previous roles, as well as sector) to grow their confidence and belief as an important delivery engine for the future of the business.

It is essential that all our field staff from clinicians to delivery drivers can operate and gain benefit from the technology that we deploy and this has driven IT directly into the centre of our business. 

In January 2017 I presented our strategy directly to over 1,400 of our employees at our annual conference.

Feedback on our presentation at the event from attendees was very positive, here are some quotes.

Question: ‘what were your takeaway messages from the Technology Enabled zone?’

  • We won’t be left behind but we will lead.
  • Excellent direction for business – very positive
  • Looks fantastic for the patients. loved the app for deliveries etc.
  • Amazing seeing what technology is out there, and exciting knowing we are hoping to use so much of it
  • We have an excellent opportunity to engage with new technology to maintain competitive advantage and enhance services for patients and customers
  • It’s an exciting time to be a part of HaH – new technology is being introduced all the time and the company is aware of current and future technology which could be used to hugely benefit our patients.
  • The future of HAH with technology looks amazing
  • The most fun. Learning how technology can improve patients’ everyday activities.
  • Audience interaction was great; this was the first time I really understood how HAH would cope with achieving the target of 2 million patients in 2020. The main presenter was fantastic, needed no cues, the information flowed easily and although lots of information was given it was easy to follow.

How have you worked with your CEO and/or board to communicate whatever ‘digital’ and IT means to your organisation/sector and improve digital literacy at the highest levels of the organisation?
Our CEO, Natalie Douglas, was appointed by our investors shortly before I arrived at Healthcare at Home. My proposed digital strategy was based around four key stages for business enablement which resonated with her:

  1. Fix/stabilise that which could be fixed
  2. Replace systems/platforms that could not
  3. Drive ‘lean’ into functional/disconnected business processes (removed much of shadow IT or disconnected data/information thinking)
  4. Create new front end services enabled by fully connected systems and devices.

Healthcare at Home has a “Vision 2020” strategy, with five key corporate objectives to help grow our business over the years ahead: to focus on our patients, people, high performance, and become more data driven and technology enabled. Being more “Data driven” and “Technology enabled” – are both within my domain.

During 2016, I began reporting directly to the CEO and I now sit on the Board (although not registered as a company director).

We have gradually improved digital and IT literacy across Healthcare at Home with initiatives to place better technology and data in front of our people doing their jobs.

Clarity of vision, consistency of message, combined with regular communications with peers and across the business has underpinned delivery. Today I am a trusted and equal partner amongst my Board colleagues. Together, we are defining and designing new business processes and services.

How have you worked with the technology and IT vendor market to achieve your business goals? How have you been able to influence IT suppliers and successfully manage your partnerships/relationships with large IT companies, SMEs and startups?
In 2014 we had no ‘partners’, only suppliers. I have now developed a strong cloud-based relationship with Microsoft aimed at improving our base versions and licensing toward an agenda of exciting integrated and digitally led initiatives as explained. I have been at pains to include our primary systems partners in regular meetings and planning sessions, as an extended part of the internal IT team rather than at arm’s length. One example would be the use of a specialist PM and PMO company to come and work with us for a defined period not just delivering service but also helping to educate and develop our internal resources to continue the maturity of our practices.

How have you tried to develop the diversity of your team?
We aim to create an inclusive workplace to attract and retain the most talented people from all backgrounds and cultures. With a female CEO, gender diversity is led from the top, supported by strong, clear HR policies and governance to maintain.

Describe how you organise and operate IT and how this aligns effectively with business strategy and operations
Our task in IT has to be to move from a largely underinvested, internal infrastructure with legacy applications to a mix of internal and cloud infrastructure and applications supporting a broader and more real time electronically dependant front office. I therefore restructured to four primary areas of control.

  • Our Digital team aligns with our corporate objective of being “Technology Enabled”.
  • Our BI/Analytics (which includes Data Management) function aligns directly with our corporate objective of being “Data-driven”
  • Operations is structured and focussed to support the reduction of day to day IT costs.
  • I use a newly created and strong PMO to coordinate change in the Applications level as these need to remain in sync with the business processes changing. There is no broader Business PMO and so my PMO is responsible for coordination outside of the IT tasks as well as inside.

What strategic technology deals have you made in the last year and who are your main suppliers and IT partners?

  • Microsoft (Azure, Office365, Dynamics, Biztalk)
  • Clicksoftware (Cloud-based clinician system)
  • Qlikview (BI & Analytics)
  • Interoute (Network)
  • CISCO/NetApp (Private Cloud Infrastructure)
  • SunGuard (Cloud-based debtor management)
  • UMotif (innovative patient health tracker app)

What are your key strategic aims for next year?
To deliver our vision of revenue growth and scalability by:

  • Developing skills and talent for connected ways of working.
  • Interoperability with the NHS.
  • Further digital patient technology including tele-monitoring, virtual consultation and omni-channel patient touch-points.
  • We will also be deploying track & trace technologies to optimise supply chain services and providing patient book & choose for prescription deliveries.

How are you preparing for any impacts Brexit might have on your organisation?
Other than the standard price increases being imposed by non-UK suppliers we are largely unaffected by Brexit. Our staff and suppliers are UK-based.

YOUR ROLE

When did you start your current role?
June 2014

What is your reporting line?
CEO since July 2016, previously CFO.

Are you a member of the executive leadership?
Yes

Are you a member of the board of directors?
Yes

What other emerging roles does your organisation have and what is their relationship to you?
I carry the responsibility of Chief Digital Office & Chief Data Officer, with the exception of commercial data. The COO & CFO are my colleagues.

How often do you meet with your organisation’s CEO or equivalent?
Weekly as a minimum.

How many people at your organisation does your function supply services to?
Over 1,800

BUDGETS

What is your annual IT budget, or your spend as a proportion of the organisation’s revenue?
c7.5% of revenue

What percentage of your budget is operational spend (ie keeping the lights on) and how much new development (ie innovation, R&D, exploratory IT)?
Keeping the lights on – 75% (this is reducing and being reinvested in change & innovation)

Change – 15%

Innovation – 10%

CIO INFLUENCES

Rank the following sources of advice/information in order of importance:

  1. CIO peers
  2. Industry bodies
  3. Analyst houses
  4. Consultants
  5. Media

IT SECURITY

Has your organisation detected a cyber intrusion in the last 12 months?
Yes

Are you expecting an increase in budget specific to security in order to tackle the cyber threat?
Yes

Does your organisation have a designated security professional – CISO or otherwise – and what is their relationship to you?
Yes, they are part of my organisation structure

RECRUITMENT

Are you finding it difficult to recruit the talent you need to drive transformation?
Yes

Has recruitment and retention risen up your agenda as a CIO?
Yes

Does your IT organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme?
No

How many employees are there in your IT team?
100+

Are you increasing your headcount or planning to bring skills and the ability to react to needs in-house?
Yes

TECHNOLOGY

Which technologies or areas are you expecting to be investing in over the next year?

  • cloud
  • data analytics/business intelligence
  • IoT
  • security
  • enterprise applications
  • social
  • devices (mobile)
  • wearables.

Which technologies or areas are you expecting to be investing in over the next one to three years?

  • cloud
  • data analytics/business intelligence
  • ERP
  • CRM
  • IoT
  • security
  • AR/VR
  • enterprise applications
  • machine learning/artificial intelligence
  • social
  • devices (mobile)
  • wearables
  • 3D printing.

What emerging technologies are you investigating or expect to have a big impact on your sector or organisation?

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • IoT
  • Cognitive Computing
  • Robotics
  • Application Meshing.

THE EU

Does your organisation do a significant amount of trade with the EU?
No

Does your department include technology staff from the EU?
No

Are you or have you been looking to the EU to recruit key skills?
Yes