Healthcare companies need specialist talent to think outside the box. Source: Shutterstock

Healthcare companies need specialist talent to think outside the box. Source: Shutterstock

Is hiring Home Depot’s CPXO a sensible choice for Kaiser Permanente?

AMERICAN healthcare company Kaiser Permanente made news recently when it announced the hire of Home Depot’s Chief Product and Experience Officer (CPXO) Prat Vemana as its first Chief Digital Officer.

The healthcare giant created the role in order to prepare itself for the next evolution of its digital vision and strategy.

Although an American company, Kaiser Permanente’s news made headlines around the world, in both, the healthcare community as well as the corporate world.

The move is in line with suggestions from top consultancies such as McKinsey and BCG who have always recommended hiring capable, digital-first leaders and championed looking for talent from other industries to bring fresh perspectives to the company’s digital roadmap.

In his role at The Home Depot, Vemana seems to have made a significant contribution to the company’s digital experience — which has had a direct impact on its share price.

Back in November 2017, as a result of various factors, including the digital initiatives spearheaded by Vemana, The Home Depot’s shares hit an all-time high.

“One of the pivots we made in the mobile app was personalization,” Vemana told CNBC, and explained that the company had been working on providing a more personalized experience to customers, becoming more “content-driven” and directing shoppers to products they need more quickly inside the app.

Vemana told CNBC that engagement on increased by more than 5 percent since the changes were implemented, and revealed that the app was due for an upgrade in the near future, including augmented reality (AR) functionality.

Given Home Depot’s focus on digital transformation, the company has built strong internal digital capabilities to support its ambitions.

“For the most part, anything that’s exciting and you want to work on it, you can work on it here. You talk about semantics and linguistics? We have someone. If it’s data sciences and analytics, machine learning, the cloud, anything on mobile tech… take your pick,” Vemana told Hypepotamus.

Vemana’s experience, skills, and capabilities, as Kaiser Permanente has recognized, are directly transferable to the healthcare industry and can bring a lot of value to what they do.

For the healthcare giant, while Vemana is the right person, it also seems as this is the right time to make the hire.

The company has already made several improvements to its business, bringing in technology at various levels, to support its larger digital transformation agenda.

“We’ve made tremendous investments in building our digital platforms and creating greater access for our members. Now we are taking it to the next level by focusing on digital experiences that change the way transactions and services are delivered,” said Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson.

Having set up the infrastructure, Vemana’s arrival could help accelerate Kaiser Permanente’s journey to digital by shifting focus back to the consumer — or patients — who are now demanding better support and quicker service/care.

Kaiser Permanente CIO Dick Daniels recently told media that over the past 12 months, the company’s website and mobile apps grew by double digits and explained that the company has ventured into providing videoconferencing capabilities to facilitate better connections between its doctors and patients.

“Prat is the perfect choice to help lead and guide the future of our digital health and wellness ecosystem that will provide our members with meaningful experiences and empower them to live more healthy years,” added Tyson.

Of course, this means that Vemana will be in the spotlight and under a bit of pressure to deliver results in the coming months — but Vemana should be well prepared given the fast-paced digital world he comes from.

In the coming months, Kaiser Permanente should be able to delight, or rather, wow customers with better experiences, and set an example for healthcare companies in its peer group.