A Reality Check on Healthcare Digital Transformation: 9 Quick-HIT Webinar Takeaways

Andrew Moravick

What is “Digital Transformation?” In their recent webinar, Technology Trends in Digital Transformation: A Reality Check, Janet King & Tom Sullivan affirmed the following CIO.com definition:

“Digital transformation is a foundational change in how an organization delivers value to its customers.”

This clear, simple explanation also carries clear, direct implications for providers and other healthcare-affiliated organizations. Analog, print-only, or other one-dimensional efforts and patient experiences are a dead-end when compared to all the possibilities for insights, innovations and improvements in the digital world.

In their comprehensive, research-backed presentation, King and Sullivan offer up five useful lenses for looking at digital transformation in healthcare in order to better understand the implications. With each perspective, they offer a wealth of valuable insights. For those who haven’t seen the webinar, what follows will give you a useful summary of some of the top takeaways. For those who have, we’ve also added a few extra thoughts and explanations to ensure the digital conversation keeps going.

Your 9-to-5 Webinar Summary: Nine Key Takeaways from Five Sections on Digital Transformation:

1. An Introductory Understanding of the Value of Digital Transformation for Healthcare:

King and Sullivan open with two hard numbers quoted from a Forbes article on digital transformation. Almost 18% of the United States’ entire GDP, roughly $3.2 trillion as of 2015, went to national health expenditures. Predictions around the impact of digital transformation in healthcare estimate approximately $300 billion in potential savings from resulting advances. Particularly, efficacy around the treatment of chronic diseases is believed to be a significant contributor to these financial benefits. Or, in more human terms, while healthcare organizations save money, people, especially those with chronic illnesses, will benefit from better, more informed care.

In short, digital transformation is a big deal!

2. Section 1 -- Where Digital Transformation is Today: 66% of Healthcare Organizations Are Making the Change

On a spectrum from “fully executed digital strategy” (most advanced), “making changes across the enterprise,” “making changes on departmental or specific use case basis,” “still gathering info/forming a plan,” to “no plans/taking no action” (least advanced), 66% of healthcare respondents to HIMSS Media’s research placed themselves in the three most advanced categories. Only 32% of respondents admitted to being in the information gathering phase, and a miniscule 2% cited no plans. In other words, 98% of healthcare organizations are either doing something about digital transformation, or planning to do something.

The takeaway: The majority of healthcare organizations are moving forward with digital transformation, but progress is currently fragmented.

3. Section 1 – Where Digital Transformation is Today: 7% of Healthcare Organizations have a Fully Executed Digital Strategy

While the first takeaway from this section shows the aggregate momentum around digital transformation, this stat offers a little more sobering context to the conversation. While there is an overwhelming movement toward digital transformation, with only 7% of healthcare organizations citing a fully executed digital strategy, there’s still a lot of progress to be made. This small subset of successful execution also emphasizes the level of difficulty within the pursuit.    

The takeaway: Healthcare providers must expect and prepare for digital transformation challenges in order to harness its benefits.

4. Section 1 – Where Digital Transformation is Today: The Need for Information Exchange, Interoperability & Data Integration Tech Innovation

Sixty-three percent of healthcare providers cited Health Information Exchange (HIE), interoperability, and data integration needs as the highest area of need for technology information. These are areas where digital improvements can deliver the most value in insights and resultant avenues for delivery of care. This also happens to be one of the most challenging spheres of healthcare information and technology.

The takeaway: There is a powerful, practical need for the kind of healthcare and technology innovations offered by digital transformation.

5. Section 2 – Data, Data, Data! 73% of Healthcare Providers Believe Analytics / Data Management Technology Drives Innovation in Healthcare

The takeaway is rather direct here, the data shows that technology which harnesses data, analytics and data management tools, is believed to have the greatest potential for fueling innovation in healthcare.

6. Section 2 – Data, Data, Data! A Speedbump for Digital Transformation

In a concise but noteworthy line, Tom Sullivan makes the point that “As the volume of healthcare data grows, so does the challenge of analyzing and leveraging that data.” The webinar goes on to dig into a wealth of additional data-driven insights and opportunities for healthcare via digital transformation, but this point helps to set clear expectations. For all that can be done with data in healthcare via digital transformation, a lot more must be done to ensure safe, secure, reliable and effective data management in healthcare. Like a speedbump, this reality may be inconvenient, but it also ensures a safe rate of speed for are parties operating in the area of healthcare.

7. Section 3 – The Promise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML): Promising Yet Unproven

Data reported in the webinar notes that 50% of healthcare providers believe AI/ML to be most hindered by its status as an unproven technology. Generally speaking, artificial intelligence and machine learning are among the newest digital capabilities to become available. The interest is high for its potential, but so is the level of scrutiny around its applications.

The takeaway, though, comes from another data point – 77% of healthcare providers say the ability to quantify ROI is the most important factor for determining if AI/ML initiatives make it to production. The interest is there, and if AI/ML can prove their worth, many providers do believe it could be worth the effort.

8. Section 4 – Cloud First, Cloud-Native, Cloud Ready! Operating Above On-Premises Limitations

Another excellent anecdotal takeaway from this webinar came from a few cases studies of organizations executing on digital transformation strategies enabled by cloud-computing capabilities. Healthcare organizations looking to process data, roll out prototypes, and bring their work to market are able to do so at a much more rapid speed.

Paired with data points like an anticipated workload of 50% of all healthcare information and technology workloads to be deployed in the cloud within the next 12 months, the cloud is clearly becoming a significant enabler of – and workhorse for – digital transformation. 

9. Section 5 – What About Security? 82% of Healthcare Providers See Technology Innovation Derailed or Stalled by Security Concerns

Security is paramount in healthcare. It’s why healthcare professionals don’t “move fast and break things” as other innovative business professionals do; they’re dealing with things that cannot be allowed to break. Yes, HIMSS research shows that 82% of healthcare providers see technology innovation derailed or stalled by security concerns. However, another HIMSS study found that 82% of hospitals say they experienced a security breach/attack/scare in the last 12 months.

The takeaway: Security concerns are integrally connected to digital transformation. To successfully progress digitally, healthcare organizations must be prepared to improve and innovate in how they address security threats and compliance issues. While the webinar delves much deeper into these details, in all functions of healthcare, from the providers, to the marketing and sales professionals trying to reach them, security needs to be a part of the conversation. Security can’t derail innovation if the right tracks are built around it.

We hope you’ve found these takeaways to be a useful summary of – and a worthwhile addition to – our digital transformation webinar. To watch (or re-watch) the session for yourself, you can click here!

To learn more about how HIMSS Media can help with your marketing and communications efforts in healthcare, talk to us today!

About the Author

As a Senior Marketing Manager for HIMSS Media, Andrew Moravick leverages extensive B2B & B2C marketing experience to oversee and optimize HIMSS Media's content marketing and demand generation efforts. In previous roles, Andrew has worked for Aberdeen Group, Snap App, PUMA, and Eloqua.

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