Embracing Healthcare’s Digital Transformation
Opportunity is building for healthcare organizations to leverage digital tools, technology and analytics to find new innovations and drive breakthrough improvements in their business and clinical operations. At the same time, investments in business systems and digital health offerings have been necessary to keep pace with the rapid rate of digital transformation fueled by the pandemic and consumer-driven trends.
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Leaders surveyed in Huron research identify key organizational priorities in the year ahead, including optimizing business operations, driving growth, and expanding and enhancing care. Data and technology are imperative to enabling breakthrough performance and innovation in each of these areas — all of which must be guided by clear, strategic implementation.
Improving Business Operations With Technology-Led Innovation
As healthcare organizations look for ways to make breakthrough improvements in business efficiency and operational agility, building long-term financial health is vital. Huron’s research finds that cost containment, growth and workforce optimization are among leaders’ most important priorities in the next 12 months.
Technology-driven programs that improve fundamental functions such as revenue cycle and supply chain will require optimizing core technology and using advanced analytics to drive efficiency and decision making.
A full 66% of leaders say that enterprise resource planning (ERP) investments will underpin efforts to modernize supply chain, which will enable both cost containment and scale. And more than half of leaders will look to electronic health record (EHR) optimization to increase revenue cycle and clinical functionality.
Leaders foresee robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) driving cost reductions, followed closely by revenue management, clinical documentation improvement (CDI) and interoperability initiatives.
As organizations continue to experience issues such as high turnover, burnout and aligning staffing needs to shifting patient volume, leaders report they will lean on automation and technology to improve workflows, increase productivity and solve for workforce challenges.
In Huron’s research, 65% of respondents point specifically to the use of automation to streamline staff license retrieval and credentialing; 62% will invest in technology for application screening. These manual human resources processes can leverage automation to drive efficiency and meet the rapid expansion of telehealth and the growing virtual workforce.
Leveraging Technology for Growth
Whether expanding geographical, specialty care or digital footprints, healthcare organizations are striving to serve more people, more efficiently and with better outcomes. At the same time, a broad and rapidly evolving ecosystem of digital health is accelerating growth across the care continuum.
While leaders indicate that technology is important for all growth measures, they place the highest importance on technology to support virtual care, data-driven decision making and staffing strategies. In Huron’s research, 49% of leaders identify technology-enabled virtual care as a key driver of growth in the next 12 months and an avenue to improve care access and increase patient volume.
With the digital push during the pandemic, health systems are positioned to leverage telehealth platforms for geographic and service line expansion. As organizations navigate reimbursement uncertainty and permanently integrate virtual services, business intelligence gleaned from enterprise-level data will be critical to supporting decisions about new care delivery and business models, service line optimization, the expansion of virtual services and the organization’s overall portfolio mix.
Strategic alliances, including managed services and outsourcing, may be a key solution to provide the rigor and support organizations need to maximize the value of their technology and analytics investments.
Embracing Data and Digital Tools to Re-Imagine Care
Disruption to consumer volume and evolving care delivery models are pushing leaders to deepen their focus on care transformation. Leaders surveyed named improved care access as their No. 1 priority in the next 12 months.
Without exception, the ability to access and understand data is paramount to transforming care. Leaders should be looking to leverage population insights and predictive analytics to understand risk factors and inform overall care strategies as well as individual patient interventions to improve outcomes.
While some organizations are already leveraging their EHRs to curtail readmissions and reduce the prevalence of hospital-acquired conditions, more focus is needed on resolving interoperability issues and enabling seamless data sharing between an organization’s website, EHR, portal and customer relationship management (CRM) platform.
Investments in CRM will prove critical as more than half of organizations in Huron’s research state that they will leverage the technology to improve care access and the clinician and consumer experience. CRM will also allow organizations to expand their digital capabilities, attracting new patients and improving interactions across the entire consumer journey.
Recent research from Huron on the healthcare consumer market confirms that consumers increasingly expect to interface digitally with healthcare providers and experience the same convenience they get in other industries. While self-service tools and patient portals have improved, patients continue to want more functionality to empower their health journeys, including access to patient data.
Leading organizations are making progress building AI and machine learning into specific EHR and CRM functionality that supports outputs such as provider messaging, self-scheduling, online medical records, prescription refills, appointment reminders and provider search.
As organizations invest in new innovations and digital tools to improve care access and the overall care experience, they must maintain awareness that digital health is not a one-solution-fits-all approach. Organizations should be leveraging the knowledge and technical infrastructure gained during the pandemic to grow digital offerings in a way that reflects their understanding of the preferences and needs of consumers in their market.
Looking ahead, digital tools, technology and analytics will continue to underpin and accelerate transformation happening across the healthcare industry. With major shifts already occurring in care delivery and economic and market pressures intensifying, now is the time for leaders to determine how to weave together their various tools and platforms to achieve breakthrough performance in cost, growth and care delivery and deepen their ability to execute their strategy. Organizations that can build internal alignment quickly will have a competitive advantage.
View Huron’s full market research to learn more about the current priorities of healthcare executives and how leaders are embracing technology, digital tools and analytics to thrive in the future of healthcare.Access Now