Digital transformation remains one of the greatest challenges facing healthcare in today’s era. While the sector is leaving no stone unturned in embracing digitalization and virtual care delivery, the evolution has been somewhat piecemeal, as innovations have entered the marketplace.
That said, the global pandemic has, however, accelerated the transformation. It has clarified the need for interoperability among IT systems facing a deluge of patient data – data often fragmented among various specialties, departments, and sites. According to a McKinsey Global Report inefficiencies like these have cost hospitals over $300 billion each year.
Undoubtedly, the challenge has led to opportunities. In the healthcare sector, a new breed of CIO is galvanized by the challenge to reinvent systems and processes. Clinicians also recognize that with improved data management, health networks will be able to streamline patient views and make care more effective than ever. Such advancement will enhance healthcare systems’ efforts to achieve the quadruple aim of improving the patient experience, achieving better outcomes, reducing the cost of care and improving staff experience.
Health systems are looking for enterprise-wide strategies that will achieve end-to-end data integration, driving precision care across the continuum. Such a vision does not come too soon for CIOs like Henning Schneider of the Asklepios Hospital Chain, which is one of Germany’s largest.
Says Schneider, “As of now, I would say that the IT department, and especially the head is the lonesome rider who has to persuade a lot of people to use and to focus more and more on digitalization and to believe in it.”
He has had to serve as “some kind of evangelist … to bring digitalization into the healthcare system.”
It is an exciting time to take the lead. Forward-thinking leaders like Leo Bodden, Chief Technology Officer at New York-Presbyterian, understand that and embrace the challenge.
“I think this is the best time for someone to be in healthcare IT,” he says, “because of the level of disruption that we are in the middle of, I find this to be the most exciting time to be in my
Drivers That Transform
The rise of healthcare consumerization was a force for change before the pandemic too. And this continues today.
Another key driver is the pandemic itself. Frost & Sullivan Jan 2021 report suggests that the pandemic has resulted in a marked increase in virtual visits, remote monitoring, and the use of patient engagement tools:
- Nearly 35% of patient interactions will be digital in 2021, a 20% increase from last year
- 20%-25% is the expected growth rate this year in patient engagement management solutions
Group Chief Digital Strategy Officer for Singapore Health Services Private Limited, Benedict Tan, agrees that the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation, and calls COVID-19 “the transformation officer.” The outbreak has fostered a need for greater interconnectedness, indeed.
Frost & Sullivan foresees as much as $2 billion being invested into enterprise imaging workflow efficiency, interoperability, and analytics.
On the national government front, the United States’ 21st Century Cures Act, which loosens regulations on data exchange and interoperability, goes into effect on April 5.
France’s new healthcare act, which was passed in 2019, also focuses on streamlined governance.
Additionally, French President Macron has promised “a massive investment plan and an upgrade of the career paths for our hospital system,” according to Reuters.
Germany’s Future Hospital Act earmarks €3 billion for digitalization as it seeks to modernize its hospital system.
Collectively, there are many positive forces to help leaders overcome IT networks that are fragmented, especially in the interfaces between diagnostic imaging examination systems, PACS, patient management systems as well as analytics.
Roadblocks To Transformation
Under the COVID-19 pandemic, the stagnation of the healthcare ecosystem was exposed. While IT innovations were available, the shortcomings of care models and regulations were hardly addressed. Transformation was seldom prioritized, due to the immediate need for cost containment.
And more data generation will only lead to more data governance and this can be addressed by melding big data’s power with self-service through data lakes, or by broadening access to enterprise data. However, further investment and vision will be necessary.
Another key barrier is the traditional preference for best-of-breed solutions, as opposed to an integrated suite. A best-of-breed approach may create advantages but also result in far greater challenges with data sharing, IT infrastructure, clinical and operational workflow.
Ultimately, the lack of a fully integrated, interoperable, and secure set of harmonized systems keeps data, clinicians, and workflows soiled and inefficient. This challenge is exacerbated by the shift from point-of-care transactions to care delivery.
Devising a strategy to manage a mix of virtual and in-person engagement, and management tools remains a significant barrier to digital maturity.
Let The Transformation Happen Together
“Healthcare transformation does take a village,” Bodden says. “If I’m asked whether I’m the mayor or an unsung hero, I would say neither. I would consider myself more of a poll reviewer of healthcare transformation. Now the question is gonna be, do we transform ourselves or does someone else transform us?”
In the healthcare space, this transformation is built upon aggregating data from various devices and systems to the point of care. Once data is captured and contextualized from all sources, effective care pathways can be achieved. Only when the silos are shattered and every shred of information is accessible, can clinicians do their best work, delivering care to patients.
“The IT systems now hardly talk to one another,” Tan says. “So what we all need to do is to modernize the architecture for the IT systems and make sure that it can talk to one another and support a more efficient workflow and processes for the patient.”
Forward-thinking leader Tan says “I’ve always emphasized that healthcare, has to be a high touch, and high-tech industry, and we can do a lot of digitalization, to then use digitalization to improve the efficiency of our doctors, our nurses.”
While many CIOs share this bold vision, tomorrow’s leaders are the ones acting on it and leading the way to greater quality care.
“What I find most pivotal with COVID-19 is the fact that we were able to do so many things, so fast,” says Leo Bodden. “We eliminated all barriers, regulatory barriers, physical barriers, and logical barriers.”
Bringing Healthcare IT Leaders’ Vision To Act
With interoperable solutions and deep clinical expertise, Philips helps healthcare IT leaders bring to life their vision of precision care.
As an HIMSS-certified partner, Philips co-creates a customized roadmap that will ensure clinician success in an ever-evolving digital world. Philips works as a trusted partner, helping healthcare IT leaders adapt and advance digital health transformation at defining moments in a patient’s journey, which paves the way for precision care.
Philips offers flexible business models and managed services through Software as a Service (SaaS), which can be extended to everything from Technology as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service, and beyond, through a subscription model or fees per study.
According to Jacob Visser, CMIO at Rotterdam’s Erasmus Medical Center, “If you have a low caseload, let’s pay per case. If you have a very unpredictable caseload, then you may think about a license model.” Philips is making this tailored approach possible.
That’s why they are partnering with each customer to guide innovation, co-create business models, and adapt to the local need of a community. With one primary goal in mind: Improve 2.5 billion lives by 2030. Together, we can make this a reality. For more information Click here