Setting the Right Foundation for a Digital Future
Over July 20 and 21, Becker’s Healthcare hosted their virtual conference titled “Shift to Digital: Telehealth, Home Health & Virtual Care.” An impressive smattering of speakers, thought leaders and health professionals presented their perspectives and words of wisdom as to where the healthcare industry has been, is now and will go moving forward, particularly considering the sweeping changes brought on by the COVID pandemic this past year.
Iron Bow’s Chief Strategy Officer of Healthcare Angie Stevens, along with Patrick Rainville, Director of Engineering for Iron Bow Healthcare Solutions and Kyle Forney, Solutions Architecture Director for Pexip sat down with Dennis V. Truong, MD, the Regional Telemedicine/Mobility Director for Kaiser Permanente to discuss how to set the right foundation for a digital future. With 95% of providers planning to offer telehealth in the future and global telehealth market projecting to grow from $61.4B in 2019 to $559.5B by 2027, this conversation isn’t just timely but crucial for healthcare organizations wanting to thrive in the days to come.
According to the panel, the first step in setting the right foundation for a digital health future is to define and implement value. Shiny objects without demonstrated value are a waste of time, money and effort. Healthcare leaders would be wise to focus on solutions addressing specific business or clinical needs where the value to clinicians, patients and ultimately the organization, is clear.
How does one go about finding value? Our panelists provided an eloquent equation built from years of experience. Value is defined as quality plus patient and provider experience over cost. The end result is a sustainable digital health future in which patient outcomes improve, clinicians are able to deliver care efficiently and healthcare organizations thrive.
The Three Cs
In an organization’s digital health journey, the three Cs, as Dr. Truong shared, are the keys to your success.
- Champions – Having transformation implemented from the top down can be a significant challenge in an industry that is slow to change, so identify your influencers. Clinical and IT personnel can help disseminate an attitude of support for digital health adoption.
- Culture – adopting a digital health future is a big change for some healthcare organizations and you must be prepared to shift the culture. Embrace this change. Prepare for it. Enact training groups, create open lines of communication and offer multiple channels of feedback for employees to help optimize the change.
- Conversations – as a combination of the two Cs above, conversations between the groups of clinical and IT staff influence culture. Having open lines of communication is the key to being able to implement digital health or affect change within an organization.
The Journey to Digital Health Adoption
Shifting to digital health, such a dramatic change for some organizations, can seem daunting. But by breaking it down to smaller tasks, a road map will soon emerge. Start by asking pertinent questions like: What are the organizational goals? What is the user perspective? How will our clinicians use this technology in the context of their current daily work? These will help shape how you move forward.
Don’t be afraid to utilize your Three Cs. Approaching a digital health posture will be most efficient and time effective if change management is implemented from both the business and clinical sides of the organization.
Measure, measure, measure. Healthcare organizations are no strangers to data. Start from the very beginning of the digital health adoption journey and clearly define the terminology and data. Collect data points and establish a foundation and brief trend before setting targets. Accept the collective feedback and follow the numbers. Share data objectively – these are valuable opportunities for improvement. Finally, don’t get caught up in anecdotal impressions or the squeaky wheels, keep the bigger picture in mind.
Choose the Right Technology
There is a plethora of aspects to consider when evaluating the right technology for your digital health adoption journey. Focus on these most important ones:
- Flexibility – ensure your digital health platform can be applied to a variety of use cases – cardiology, radiology, triage, in-patient departments to name a few. This will guarantee your investment goes further while providing the most providers the tools they need to deliver care. On a culture note, anticipate change. It’s no secret the healthcare can be resistant to change and there’s no reason to believe the acceptance of digital will be any different. The technology you choose needs to be able to adjust moving forward as care delivery changes.
- Scalability – When the pandemic caused telehealth encounters to skyrocket essentially overnight, we saw that it was absolutely imperative that any telehealth platform scales up easily and quickly. Now that we’re moving passed the point of emergency, having digital health tools that also scale down just as critical. Not only does this help with costs so you aren’t paying for bandwidth you aren’t using but it frees up resources to focus on other aspects of business operations optimizing the use of your most critical assets.
- Easy to use – your telehealth tools should be an extension of your brick and mortar care delivery. By implementing familiar workflows for your providers, they will feel more comfortable and confident with their ability to maintain the high standard of care. In turn, having this ability will help with adoption throughout the organization saving training time and reducing a resistance to cultural change.
- Integrates – Similar to ease of use, integration with your current workflows and platforms is essential to your digital health adoption. Both your IT team and your clinical staff will thank you to ensure these integrations are as seamless as possible. Threading the points together on the back end will ensure simplicity moving forward.
- Third party assistance – Some organizations choose to simplify telehealth adoption by bringing in their party vendors to assist with the change. Organizations like this can bring a wealth of industry knowledge, IT expertise to offer resource augmentation and workflow matching. Some organizations, like Iron Bow and Pexip, offer their own unique telehealth platform that bundles all the benefits for healthcare organizations to essentially offer a one-stop-shop for a digital health adoption journey.
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