Digital transformation is key to revamping care interactions

More healthcare organization CEOs realize that they need to change operations to provide personalized experiences for consumers – and tech is only a piece of that puzzle.

This article is part of a CEO leadership series

Digital transformation will be important for healthcare organizations that are intent on how they want to meet consumers' needs while improving operations.

Healthcare organizations are lurching toward a new way of interacting with consumers and providing care, mirroring popular technologies that have transformed business in other sectors.

Organizations that are seeking to improve communications, transactions and care delivery while making it more effective see digital transformation as an essential component of the effort.

According to a recent report by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, health systems consider digital capabilities as key to fundamentally transforming their relationships with consumers.

In a multipronged research effort involving Scottsdale Institute members, Deloitte found that 92 percent of healthcare organizations surveyed want to fundamentally transform their relationships with consumers, which is their top expectation of digital transformation. Some 60 percent of surveyed organizations say they are only midway through their transformation as they struggle with a shortage of talent, data and key performance indicators.

Most healthcare organizations are in the early stages of their journey toward achieving digital transformation, according to leaders of healthcare information technology and services companies interviewed by Health Data Management.

The companies spotlighted in the interviews are the highest performing firms in healthcare as recognized by the annual Best of KLAS recognition program, selected by the consultancy because of recognition from customers for their responsiveness to clients, the quality of their products and their knowledge of the industry. These firms, featured in a new series of insights from Health Data Management, Beyond the Rankings, offer a range of products and services, including electronic health records, enterprise resource planning, artificial intelligence, consulting services and more.

The perspectives of these company leaders illustrate how technology can support providers’ evolving healthcare delivery and the key challenges that provider organizations’ CEOs must address.

Better, easier interactions

More healthcare CEOs see an urgent need to revamp how their organizations deliver care. That includes a digital transformation of processes to meet expected demands of clinicians, patients and other players.

Healthcare CEOs “need to shift the mindset to be focused on their organizations and their patients and what they're there to do, which is to envision the next generation of clinical care that they can deliver."

Helen Waters, executive vice president and COO, Meditech

But many healthcare organizations are still trying to determine what initial steps to take and what constitutes an effective “digital front door” to consumers. Providers understand that consumers must be seen as important members of their care team who must have easy access to all their medical information.

Healthcare CEOs “need to shift the mindset to be focused on their organizations and their patients and what they're there to do, which is to envision the next generation of clinical care that they can deliver," says Helen Waters, executive vice president and COO at Meditech. That task involves determining “what are the augmenting technologies and digital tools that will best facilitate that.”

Even though it’s not yet clear what technology will enable healthcare to become, forward-thinking CEOs are demonstrating commitment to making progress, Waters says. “The strong organizations are envisioning their future and the tool sets that will enable them to be well-prepared for this next digital transformation,” she explains.

Giving patients what they want

New technology capabilities will provide benefits and bring efficiencies for caregivers, enabling the implementation of new care models, such as hybrid care environments, predicts Mike Brandofino of Caregility.

“If you let the patient go home (after a procedure) but can continue their care for the next 30 days post op – that's the vision, really combining that ability to be seen (by a clinician) at any time, with other technologies that can layer on that to augment that hybrid care environment,” Brandofino says.

Digital transformation also will mean accommodating new relationships between the players in healthcare, particularly as consolidation takes hold, the health IT company leaders say.

“We're at this remarkable moment of industrial convergence within healthcare,” says Ken Grayboys, CEO of the Chartis Group. “So, payers and providers are converging a bit, but in addition, now it's payers acting as providers, and retail getting involved in a very different way. These and other changes are fundamentally changing the landscape of healthcare delivery.”

Still, incorporating new technologies into healthcare will require a deft touch, because such solutions can only do so much, says Bruce Haupt, president and CEO of ClearBalance. Tech innovations “are great and should be done. But the industry has to be careful – technology won't solve all the problems we have,” he notes. “Healthcare is a people business.”

Technological innovation can only go as far as organizations – and the leaders that direct them – will allow it to go, says Keith Lohkamp, senior director of industry strategy at Workday.

“It starts with a vision of what they're trying to accomplish for their organization and what they're trying to get out of implementing new software,” he says. “When an organization just takes their current processes and tries to put in new software, they're not going to get the benefits that come out of that new software, because it's designed differently to support processes in a different way.

“But having some of that leadership – to really lay out where the organization wants to go and to keep them on track – that’s how they’re really getting more of the value that they expected out of out of the technology.”

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