In 2023, Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities from leading companies like OpenAI/Microsoft, Google, and others have experienced significant growth thanks to advances in machine learning (ML) and large language models (LLMs). Health industry organizations are eager to take advantage of these AI capabilities, aiming to enhance productivity, foster creativity, and elevate the service experience for patients and customers. Use-cases range from marketing to diagnostics, from customer/member support to advanced analytics and prediction models.
Leaders across the health landscape are asking themselves the following questions:
What has received less attention in the press and health industry boardrooms is the critical role that an organization’s culture will have on its ability to harness the potential of AI.
We believe that an organization’s culture will be the key differentiator that separates health organizations who succeed in adapting to this AI revolution from those who are left behind.
At Vynamic, we witness the impact of culture on an organization’s ability to deliver its strategy every day. Organizations who are purposeful about defining and tending to their culture use it as a force multiplier, enabling them to move more quickly toward a shared vision and purpose. Conversely, organizations who have neglected their culture risk internal conflict and misalignment.
We have identified 4 cultural cornerstones that we expect to have a marked impact on an organization’s ability to adapt to the AI future and that are necessary for any significant transformation.
Trust is the cornerstone of effective collaboration. To trust fundamentally means to make ourselves vulnerable to the actions of others because we believe they will do right by us. When we choose to trust someone, we willingly give them power over us, trusting that they will not abuse that power.1 A high-trust company culture gets things done faster and more cost-effectively, while those with a low-trust culture are burdened with a tax on business performance.2
In adapting to a new AI-powered world, health industry organizations will rely on a foundation of trust interwoven throughout their organizations. Employees must trust not only the competence of their leadership to navigate this change, but perhaps, more importantly, trust their leaders to have their best interests at heart. Conversely, leaders need to trust their employees.
In a world where AI-powered shortcuts are readily available, leaders must be able to trust their employees to use (or to not use) these emerging tools in ways that protect the company and its stakeholders’ interests.
High-trust organizations leverage this strength to accelerate decision-making and collaboration across teams. We expect high-trust organizations will experience lower turnover than their counterparts, as employees trust that their organization will find ways to adapt to AI and the changing external environment.
Closely related to trust, psychological safety refers to a person’s perception of the consequences of taking an interpersonal risk.3 It is a precondition for trust.
The successful adoption of AI into the health industry will require experimentation and risk-taking. For these to be manifested productively, two characteristics of psychological safety must be true.
Recognizing the need to democratize AI innovation in a safe space, Merck recently launched myGPT@Merck to its internal colleagues, bringing large language models and AI-powered data to as many internal users as possible around the world. To ensure colleagues feel supported in their use of this powerful tool, the solution was carefully vetted by IT security experts and the workers council before being rolled out.4
Notably, organizations with employees experiencing low psychological safety are characterized by both a persistent anxiety about future prospects and a dearth of good ideas.
While much of the conversation about AI relates to the tremendous impact it is likely to have on organizational efficiencies by performing a given task in a fraction of the time with lower labor costs, it’s critical to not lose sight of AI’s relationship to quality. We share the view of many that to a large extent, AI won’t replace people – people using AI will replace those who are not.
Humans using AI have already been demonstrated to perform better than either humans or AI alone. In the health industry, this holds true in several domains with few more important than the role AI can play in assisting providers to make time-sensitive diagnoses. At Mt Sinai, where AI is being deployed to rapidly sift through patient records and give time back to the staff, leaders have stressed that AI tools are informing medical professionals’ decision-making, not replacing it.5 This serves as an example of the needed alignment around the respective roles of AI and people across many roles and functions to produce not only more efficient outcomes, but high-quality ones.
Organizations that do not frame clear cultural expectations about the role of AI risk their teams using AI tools as a crutch and accept mediocrity as a result. We call this the “mediocrity trap”.6 Generative AI tools like ChatGPT make it easy to do “just enough” where a novice or an uncritical eye may not notice they are impacting quality. In contexts where critical thinking or creativity is called for, relying too heavily on AI like this poses the risk of creating undifferentiated or uninformed results. This not only has implications on the quality of the immediate task, but also shortchanges the individual’s growth and understanding of the topic at hand, making them less able to bring informed perspectives to future contexts.
Empathy holds a pivotal role as the fourth cultural dimension we have identified for organizations to adapt to the AI future. Empathy at its core is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. When applied within an organizational culture, it signifies recognizing and valuing the emotional experiences, perspectives, and well-being of all members within the institution and its stakeholders.
Empathy is so foundational to innovation, it’s codified as the first stage of the Design Thinking innovation framework (Empathize → Define → Ideate → Prototype → Test) and companies who express it across their organization will be better positioned to identify the most effective and human-centered uses of AI.7 Many have feared that outsourcing customer interactions to AI will result in a loss of empathy, but early research has found that somewhat counterintuitively, AI has the potential to increase empathy. In one study from November 2022, messages drafted by AI and sent by providers to patients were rated by blinded observers to be more empathetic than those that providers drafted independently.8
We recognize empathy is one of the most foundational components of any change management plan, which must account for how various recipients may experience a message. Tools like ChatGPT can be used to pull through the thread of empathy to achieve desired outcomes across a number of areas, such as synthesizing survey results, customer service interactions, and social media, or when used as a sounding board for draft communications.
Vynamic’s experience leading transformation initiatives across the health industry suggests that companies who fail to embed empathy into their approach may struggle adapting to an AI world.
So, what is a health industry leader to do? We recommend the following actions to begin to prepare your organization for the impacts of artificial intelligence:
If you or your team is grappling with navigating the impacts of AI on your organization, Vynamic can help. Our team is experienced in leading strategic change efforts across the health industry, bringing together intimate knowledge of health trends and challenges with expertise in culture, organization design, technology transformation, and change management. In future insights, we will dive deeper into the specific steps you should be taking to transform your organization for the AI future.
Agree or disagree with our perspective? Contact us to let the authors know, through the channels listed below.
Vynamic, an Inizio Advisory company, is a leading management consulting partner to global health organizations across Life Sciences, Health Services, and Health Technology. Founded and headquartered in Philadelphia, Vynamic has offices in Boston, Durham NC, and London. Our purpose is simple: We believe there is a better way. We are passionate about shaping the future of health, and for more than 20 years we’ve helped clients transform by connecting strategy to action.
Through a structured, yet flexible delivery model, our accomplished leaders work as an extension of client teams, enabling growth, performance, and culture. Vynamic has been recognized by organizations like Great Place to Work and Business Culture Awards for being leaders and innovators in consulting, company culture, and health. Visit Vynamic.com to discover how we can help transform your
organization or your career.
Establishing and optimizing team culture is about creating cultural practices that motivate teams to drive results.
In this episode, Jen is joined by Vynamic’s Michael Hudson, Mike Cottone, and Vish Kaushik to discuss a major news item.