99% of health systems leaders say it's important to invest in digital health

ORLANDO, Fla. – The pandemic has accelerated a lot of innovation in the digital space, in large part because it forced patients and providers to engage virtually, both synchronously and asynchronously, according to panelists at HIMSS State of Healthcare 2022. In just two years, we have seen a rapid growth of virtual visits, remote patient monitoring, texting applications and other digital solutions. However, the adoption and acceptance has not been as linear. 

Yesterday, at the HIMSS State of Healthcare 2022, a panel of leaders representing payer, provider, and patient voices joined to discuss the current healthcare landscape and what the future might hold. The speakers shared data from the HIMSS22 State of Healthcare report. These leaders shared research that highlighted global data trends, shedding light on key opportunities and challenges in this journey to digitally transform and personalize medicine. 

“[Digital transformation] is no longer an option; it’s a mandate,” Tom Kiesau, senior partner and leader of Chartis Digital, said during the panel. 

Despite differing priorities, all the speakers agreed that technology alone is not a sufficient solution for digital transformation. We need the buy-in and active engagement of all stakeholders – payers, providers and patients alike.

Kiesau shared data from a survey of 250 health executives globally. For 99% of respondents, digital transformation and personalized care were of high importance. However, despite clear recognition of the need, the majority of respondents noted that they were still stuck in the planning and pre-implementation phases. This may be partly due to the observation that 60% of these organizations did not have the structure in place to even support digital transformation. 

Dr. Darryl Gibbings-Isaac, an executive and clinical subject matter expert in Accenture’s Health Strategy Practice, represented the view of clinicians and shared the survey data results from 350 clinicians across three continents. Clinician burnout has been a hot topic of conversation recently, and sadly, the results showed that for 69% of clinicians, increased digitalization of healthcare increased stress, and 49% felt it increased their work burden.

Looking at these findings, it is clear that current technology has not improved healthcare for the provider. It is imperative that new solutions adapt to current workflows and respond to physician input. As Dr. Gibbings-Isaac stated, “Clinicians need to feel more supported and invested in the [process of] digital transformation” for it to be successful. 

From the payer standpoint, Shreesh Tiwari, principal at ZS’ health plan digital, analytics and technology practice, underlined the fact that both international and domestic markets were seeing a shift in the site of care away from hospitals and were leveraging more non-traditional sites of care. Within the U.S., there also has been an increased focus on building technology as opposed to acquiring it. 

“Payers are focused on providing providers the right amount of information, at the right time, for the right patient,” Tiwari said. 

Lauren Goodman, senior insight director at HIMSS, provided a look into the patient perspective. Surprisingly, in a system that emphasizes value-based care, almost half of patients perceived the value of services they were receiving to be unsatisfactory. Lauren also pointed out a shift toward the consumerization of medicine. 

She noted that we live “in a digitally enabled world, in a world where consumers are getting instant gratification, [so] we must keep this in mind when we innovate digital solutions.” Expectations are going up, and as Tiwari added, “The newer generation wants to consume healthcare like they consume any other service … [but] no one size fits all.” 

The success of healthcare is no longer measured just by clinical outcomes but by looking at the patient as a whole, considering their social and mental well-being. Digital transformation can provide us the means to meet providers and patients where they’re at, and to bring them tools to optimize and personalize care at the time and place they need it, according to the speakers. Technology brings a lot of promise in the coming years, but all stakeholders must be aligned for digital transformation to be effective and create lasting positive impact.

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