Healthcare Conference Learnings: Connectivity Is Power

Check out key takeaways from the recent HIMSS Global Conference & Exhibition on how connectivity, digital transformation, and working towards reforming healthcare together will shape the year ahead.

In February, a team of us from Workday participated in the HIMSS Global Conference & Exhibition, which focused on the most pressing global healthcare topics. This year’s conference theme was “Champions of Health Unite,” bringing together leaders from all areas of the healthcare space, including CIOs, CFOs, hospital and health systems administrators, policymakers, healthcare innovators, clinicians, and more. All were ready to share their insights on how we can make positive change in healthcare.

We know there are a number of challenges: inefficient and inconsistent processes, decreasing revenue, regulatory shifts, and insurance adjustments all greatly impact the future of healthcare. One of the overarching messages from HIMSS was the power of connectivity across the industry in addressing these challenges, and how that’s only possible through digital transformation.

Having spent several days at HIMSS absorbing all these great insights, I wanted to share some key takeaways on how connectivity, digital transformation, and working towards reforming healthcare together will shape the year ahead.

Digital Transformation Requires Broad Ownership

Healthcare organizations are undergoing digital transformations to stay competitive in the market, retain top talent, and achieve organizational objectives. But in practice, what does digital transformation look like? And how can it be achieved?

One thing came through loud and clear: Digital transformation is a team sport, requiring people from across the organization to be aligned and enthusiastic for change. From the C-suite to clinical providers to leaders in HR, finance, and IT, organizations need stakeholders at every level and with varying specialties to own and invest in the change.

Understanding the frontline challenges faced by the organization influences how digital transformation can be achieved. For example, a CEO who takes the time to understand both the IT department’s role in digital strategies and who in that department really understands the business can get a better grasp on organizational challenges. Deeper understanding also creates partnerships across departments and leadership levels and helps organizations retain people during change, who in turn add value and are invested in making shifts.

Innovation Should Have a Clear Purpose

True innovation is tied to broader business strategy, and has actionable insights that make an impact. Digital transformation needs to be a collaborative, step-by-step process starting with reducing reliance on legacy platforms that have redundant capabilities. Better healthcare outcomes emerge when there’s interoperability of care and a commitment to following patients through their care journey.

Currently, physicians spend two times the amount of time on administrative work than patient care. So there’s demand from clinicians to find solutions to reduce admin work. By automating processes, organizations can reduce provider burnout and improve engagement.

Asking clinicians what they need to be able to effectively use new capabilities, such as training on how to access and interpret data, is a necessary shift when implementing new technology. If technology is not easy or helpful to use, or they don’t have the right level of support, they won’t use it.

A Change Management Strategy Is Critical

Digital transformation is a hard, intense process, and one that’s never truly done.That’s why healthcare organizations need a change management strategy that connects everyone who is impacted by it.

Effective change management needs a balance of competence, confidence, control, and comfort and requires:

  • Letting go of the past, and for some, working through what may even be a feeling of loss.
  • Being okay with anxiety in the transition phase.
  • Charting a new direction with excitement.
  • Setting metrics for achievement at the beginning of change implementation and measuring each step of the way.

Looking to employees who are already engaged leaders, are passionate about making positive change, and have influence with their peers can go a long way. For example, in a health system setting, clinicians who have strong, measurable results can influence others in the organization by explaining the steps they took to achieve their positive results. Since clinicians need support in understanding how data and digital health innovations relate to them, receiving that message from peers who understand their practice and their challenges is helpful.

In addition, starting a change management strategy with attainable, data-driven goals—achieving and building on small wins, rather than attempting a major overhaul at once—helps build momentum for change. Successes keep morale high because when positive progress is made, no matter how small, it keeps employees engaged and motivated to keep moving forward.  

Get Educated About Machine Learning

For next steps in adopting machine learning in healthcare, it needs to solve straightforward business challenges to build credibility and provide positive results before we can even consider using it support clinical decisions. Involving clinicians in machine learning adoption incentivizes them to use the data received from machine learning.

Digital transformation is a team sport, requiring people from across the organization to be aligned and enthusiastic for change.

With 18 percent of GDP spent on healthcare in the U.S., and providers spending twice as much time on administrative work than they do on patient care, there is a significant amount of spend being used for administrative tasks. Machine learning can be used to support clinicians with the influx of administrative processes now required in their practice. It is well-suited to tasks requiring sorting through mountains of data and making predictions. Trained clinicians can then apply their judgment and implement the best decisions. Clinicians can continue to have oversight on practices supported by machine learning, and reduce the amount of time they spend on administrative work, which allows for more time to be spent on patient care.

Supply Chain’s Impact on Connectivity and Interoperability

In the era of value-based care, hospitals and health systems are penalized and rewarded based on outcomes. An effective supply chain strategy can improve the quality of care, increase patient and employee satisfaction, and improve financial performance, leading to the best outcomes with minimal waste.

For example, if one type of equipment is expensive but doesn’t have any data to support that it produces better outcomes than a cheaper, generic option, then why continue to use it? Looking at data-driven measurements of equipment rather than a “we’ve always done it this way” mentality contributes to better patient outcomes with reduced costs and reduced waste. It’s a balance of cost, quality, and outcomes to make sure all connect. Of course, achieving supply chain improvements requires investment in and application of digital transformation, as legacy systems typically don’t have the agility to provide relevant and necessary supply chain insights.

Interoperability of Care Is Key

Without interoperability, collaborative practices, and appropriate technology, making a difference in healthcare is impossible. Technology companies can support healthcare without being experts in healthcare themselves. For example, helping hospitals and health systems move to a secure cloud can reduce costs, help protect against cyber attacks, and increase privacy protection, which is especially important for patient health data.

As we spring into the next year of healthcare transformation, we’ll join in with HIMSS in “reforming healthcare together.” To learn more about how we’re supporting innovation in healthcare, take a look here.

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