As a healthcare performance improvement consultant, I’m on the road five days a week. Because my team and I are so deeply embedded and driven by the success of our member health systems, they often feel like a home away from home. But as a father of two young boys growing like weeds, earlier this month I welcomed the opportunity to stay local and moderate a Healthcare Leadership Exchange Program in Atlanta (with the added benefit of serving a rare mid-week taxi service for school and soccer practice).
The event was a breath of fresh air, convening over 30 local healthcare executives from Georgia Department of Public Health and Cancer Centers of America to local powerhouses like Piedmont, Emory, Wellstar, Shephard Center and more. We initially sought out to collaborate on Implementing the Next Generation of Healthcare Technology, particularly in light of the Telehealth Parity legislation passed by Georgia Lawmakers this year.
Luckily, the discussion took on a life of its own.
I say luckily because my shtick is helping health systems identify and implement millions of dollars in savings and my only expertise in telemedicine is asking Alexa to send me another pair of compression socks.
As we discussed technology decision-making and investment, and the challenges and opportunities with integration and adoption, one overarching point stood out. Digital health is fundamentally shifting the way in which care is enabled for consumers and in turn reshaping organizational strategies as they meet these demands.
Here are four key takeaways that I thought were worth sharing.
1. For these bright minds, it’s all about the why.
Sometimes half the battle is identifying the problem. Even more so, a data-driven approach to validating it. What problem are we trying to solve and how is it defined by everyone in the value chain: patients, caregivers, providers, administrators, executives. Each of these stakeholders are looking to a technology vendor to get a job done, whether it be business process automation, data integration and insight, procurement, payment, patient feedback or even decision support.
Coincidentally, healthcare technology can both create gaps in the workflow of healthcare’s toughest problems and close them. The magic happens when all constituents are aligned on the problems being solved and any technology investments are evaluated based on their approach to solving them. My team starts every engagement with data and key findings from a summary of an enterprise’s opportunity areas, all served up into a customized dashboard highlighting areas to focus on for improvement. Any and all technology or engagement recommendations are only a result of evaluating the organization’s strategic objectives and the problems to be solved.
2. The customer and their experience matter.
Several executives in the room shared how they are innovating around collecting real-time patient experience data to accelerate improvement. Moving beyond HCAHPS to get closer to the pulse of the patient and their journey with the services provided. Someone pointed out that we as a healthcare community are serving five generations of consumers with varying degrees of technical expertise and different engagement preferences. We cannot take a one size fits all approach, and need flexibility and interoperability among technology options to customize the experience based on the social, health and wellness needs of people in our communities.
While the audience engaged mostly around understanding the patient as the customer, I both validated and discovered new ways to engage with them, as current or prospective Premier partners. As partners in their journey to deliver high-quality, low-cost care, we too have a responsibility to keep the end consumers (whether it be practitioners or patients) of the technology in mind.
For Premier that means ensuring data and insights are unlocked, actionable and federated, and that part of implementation of deployment involves a thorough understanding of the impacts and use patterns of each stakeholder.
3. Without education, adoption lags.
Lots of healthy discussion around why technology is slow to be adopted, whether the user be a patient, caregiver, provider or other. But if we’re truly solving an unmet need, then why? The industry needs better and more consumable education around the adoption of technology. Education that is digestible and consumable by all variations of users relative to a user’s unique “use case”.
Some analytics tools, including those from Premier, are designed to actually save time in quickly surfacing actionable opportunity so providers can get back to what matters most. But doing so requires a thorough understanding of how to find what you’re looking for. I am a firm believer that technology alone cannot solve healthcare’s biggest problems.
Data can help identify and validate the opportunities for improvement, and technology can help automate and streamline processes, but real sustainable improvement requires a health system navigating change openly and collaboratively.
4. Navigating the “F Word”.
You know the word. Finance. And if you’re like others at the conference, you are likely still trying to get the most out of your investments, especially your EMR. Financing new initiatives, and justifying a new technology spend, requires a substantiated balance around the pace at which your investments can be funded and achieve ROI. Which goes back to defining the problem and its impact on all constituents involved.
Building an ROI story to justify technology spend can include its impact on automation, staffing, volume, resource utilization, cost of care, patient satisfaction, patient throughput, and so much more. Given the complexities of healthcare, total cost of technology ownership will likely be less if you’re working with a healthcare-specific technology partner, given they have customized their tool based on the industry’s unique need.
Thanks to the Healthcare Executive Forum and the Atlanta audience for engaging so deeply with me and humoring my dad jokes. It’s rewarding to collaborate with such esteemed colleagues locally and it’s always good to be home.
Is your organization successfully navigating technology decision making, investment, integration and adoption? Premier can help.