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Francesca El Attrash-Ukaejiofo April 29 2022 3 min read

4 Key Focus Areas to Measure Your Digital Health Strategy

With all the data gathered through the Digital Front Door, tracking, and measuring progress will be critical to demonstrating value and ensuring solutions support any healthcare organization’s strategic goals. From an industry perspective, key metrics fall into the following categories:
  • Financial Return
  • User Satisfaction (Experience)
  • Effectiveness
  • Technical Performance
For each telehealth program, selected success criteria are identified during the initiation phase, ensuring all stakeholders and vendors clearly understand the intent and expected outcomes for the investment. Not all metrics are applicable across all programs. That’s why it is especially important to measure only those criteria that could impact a future business or clinical decision as tracking unnecessary data tends to dilute the value of key criteria.

Financial Return

Many organizations require an estimated financial return, or ROI, prior to investing in any new program. Although measuring financial outcomes is important, targeting a specific return can be challenging when very little unbiased data are available for these emerging technologies. Instead of establishing a targeted return, it’s recommended that the potential financial improvements are identified early and trended over time with volume. For example, when implementing a patient monitoring solution to reduce readmission rates, the return may be extrapolated by simply collecting a before and after trend for readmissions for a specified condition using an average cost of readmission. After reaching a statistically valid volume of data, the trend can be accessed for overall value determining whether the program should continue as is, be adjusted, or potentially closed.

User Satisfaction

Healthcare engagement is personal for both patients and clinicians, therefore perceived value can heavily impact utilization. Effective human centered design ensures an optimal experience for all end users, but ongoing measurement is required to validate expectations are being met. Establishing criteria that allow for comparison to other modalities of care provide additional reinforcement for the efficacy of a program. Surveys should be conducted consistently across a varied population to identify trends that may assist in tailoring programs to specific clinical or user needs.

Effectiveness

A key driver for the implementation of telehealth solutions has historically been demonstrated improvement in the access to care; however, simply improving access without measuring the outcomes may lead to unwarranted increased utilization. Telehealth expands the ability for an organization to provide timely care based on an immediate clinical need rather than simply scheduled care which may or may not coincide with the patient’s concern. In theory, timely access to high quality care will improve outcomes; however, is that improvement significant enough to justify the investment? Two key areas to measure for efficacy are operational improvements and clinical outcomes. From an operational perspective, can a higher level of care be provided to a broader population with the same number of resources? Can automation reduce the staffing requirements? Measuring clinical outcomes is often more challenging and reliant on time and volume; however, demonstrating a higher quality of care is the most significant value driver of many programs.

Technical Performance

Telehealth is naturally heavily reliant on technology, including hardware, software, networks, end user devices, etc. There are many potential points of failure that could negatively impact end user experience. With any new technology, there is a learning curve and abandonment rates can be high. This can often lead to a gap between system data and user reported experience. Two key areas are required to ensure that the technology in question is effectively supporting the program. First is general standard system performance data such as uptime, speed, quality, etc. The second is the end user perception which can be gathered as part of user satisfaction data but may be simplified to star ratings to improve response rate. Combining these two sets of data allow for targeted remediation of any issues from the system level all the way down to the individual user. Continuous optimization should be anticipated and is required as programs scale and technologies improve. Metrics and programs are inextricably related. Financial ROI is highly dependent on end user satisfaction and effectiveness. Satisfaction is also tightly related to technical performance. Having a core set of data tracked at both the detailed and macro levels provides stakeholders objective information necessary to make future strategic, business, clinical, operational, and technical decisions. This blog is an excerpt from our new playbook, “How Digital Health Can Drive Better Outcomes for All.” To download the full playbook, head here. 

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