Majority of healthcare providers lagging in their digital health readiness

Failing to invest in the right technologies at the right time can eventually force patients to look elsewhere for their health services.
09:38 AM
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U.S. healthcare providers understand IT modernization is now a necessity in today’s increasingly digital- and mobile-driven world. Yet many providers admit they are nowhere near ready to deliver the level of secure digital and mobile health offerings today’s consumers expect.

Failing to invest in the right technologies at the right time can eventually force patients to look elsewhere for their health services. Clinicians, physicians and key staff move on to more competitive health systems. In turn, an organization may be forced to fold. In fact, that’s already happening.

“The larger institutions are going to lead the way in innovation, and smaller ones will piggyback off those solutions,” said Bellrock Intelligence CIO-COO Charlie Wilson. Bellrock Intelligence makes data analytics software used by healthcare insurers and hospitals.

Wilson’s comments are part of a new HIMSS Media report that examines healthcare providers’ digital health readiness—and why so many remain reluctant to adopt mobile, cloud computing and data analytics solutions now commonplace in more advanced health systems.

Findings are based on a HIMSS model to help healthcare providers assess their own digital health readiness. Once built, researchers asked 220 healthcare IT decision-makers and influencers about their organizations’ technology plans. Their responses to an online survey were then scored and placed within the model’s digital health continuum.

Only 11% were considered early adopters, with another 25% making some headway in their digital health plans. The remainder of respondents, however, trailed their more progressive peers—sometimes significantly—based on their scores.

While those lagging organizations remained in wait-and-see mode, early adopters are encouraged by early results such as:

  • Reduced care costs (87% of early adopters)
  • Improved workflow efficiencies (83%)
  • Improved patient satisfaction (82%)
  • Improved patient outcomes (78%)

These organizations, to various extents, put more resources into utilizing cloud-native architecture for building applications; exploring distributed ledger technology, such as blockchain; leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning for clinical diagnosis and treatment support; and adopting an integrated platform as a service (IPaaS) solution.

The biggest barriers health systems currently face to improving their digital readiness, according to the study, include: 

  • Integrating legacy systems with new digital/mobile technologies
  • Clinician resistance to integrating new solutions into workflows
  • Finding skilled IT staff to both deploy and maintain new technologies
  • Privacy and security concerns

“Internally, these [data privacy and security] aspects are being addressed by health systems, but they are not being communicated to their patients and communities other than telling people their privacy is secure. But what does that really mean?” Wilson said.

You can read more about these and other challenges facing healthcare organizations in the full report.