According to the HIMSS22 State of Healthcare Report, 80% of healthcare system leaders plan to increase their investment levels in digital healthcare over the next five years.
The report also found that 60% described themselves as “stuck in the planning and pre-implementation phases” of digital transformation, either because they lack the necessary infrastructure or lack the high-quality patient and other data needed to achieve their goals.
As more organizations open the digital front door, patient data and patient identification will become increasingly important, said Verato CEO Clay Ritchie. Verato is a healthcare digital transformation provider.
We interviewed Richie to discuss the types of health digital investments that need to be made, getting health system leaders out of the planning and pre-implementation phase, the roles of CIOs and other C-suite executives to “uncouple,” and the relationship between the digital gateway and patient data.
Q. The majority of healthcare provider organizations are increasing their investments in digital healthcare, according to HIMSS. Where do you think the main investments should be made?
A. Healthcare organizations are upping their game in terms of digitally transforming their operations, ranging from behind-the-scenes administration to face-to-face interaction at the check-in counter and exam rooms.
In fact, our recent report found that 99% of health system leaders consider investing in digital health initiatives vital to their ability to compete in the marketplace.
Healthcare leaders should focus on investing in these areas, but it is important to note that new technologies are not enough. Healthcare organizations risk failing to realize the full potential of these efforts unless they are accompanied by both a time and monetary investment to ensure that their organization’s data is clean, accurate and organized, especially when it comes to for foundational elements such as patient identity.
After all, you can’t reach your patients or other users, or effectively analyze and manage your data, without knowing exactly and reliably who they are.
Q. Most health system executives say they are stuck in planning and pre-implementation when it comes to digital health, according to HIMSS. In your experience, why do you think this is the case?
A. Interoperability and digital health are on the agenda of every healthcare IT director, but the challenge is that critical patient information is captured in siled systems. An obstacle to true digital health transformation is that it requires a system with a consistent data model across the entire healthcare enterprise.
As patients, consumers, members enter healthcare systems through various channels, starting as targets in marketing campaigns, potential walk-ins at affiliated clinics, or through telehealth visits, they enter the organization in various systems, and along the journey of care, patient data will be introduced to more systems.
The complexity of obtaining a complete 360 view of the patient, consumer or health plan member has certainly increased.
Q. What must healthcare CIOs and other C-suite executives do to be removed?
A. It all comes back to the need for a solid foundation of accurate and reliable data on which to digitize every aspect of a healthcare organization – from behind-the-scenes administrative operations to care delivery to patient interaction, whether in person or online – and must includes basic patient data.
More healthcare organizations are looking to implement digital tools and solutions in hopes of achieving goals such as taking the strain out of burned-out staff, automating administrative tasks, acting on more reliable healthcare or population health insights, and more.
This digital approach has great potential to solve some of the biggest challenges in healthcare today, but it also means that organizations are inundated with more data streams than ever before.
This data and digital overload can leave organizations feeling paralyzed and unable to unlock the true value of their digital investments or even justify how and why to begin their digital transformation journey.
Reliable and accurate patient data is key. Healthcare organizations need to be able to accurately match and unify records across all systems – EHR, CRM, telehealth, patient portal, call center, PACS, home health, pharmacy, etc. And they have to do this across their entire network: hospitals, physician groups, ambulatory surgery centers, radiology departments, long-term care and clinics, so you know who’s who.
Knowing who is who will create the connection between systems, and once that foundation is in place, healthcare leaders must make a compelling and compelling case for digital transformation of their institution with everyone from their frontline providers to the decision makers in the boardroom .
Having this solid foundation also makes it easier to truly understand the ROI your organization can achieve during the digital transformation process, and it’s easier to make and stick with a decision once you have all the right points in place from data.
Q. You predict that as more organizations open the digital front door, patient data and patient identification will become increasingly important. Please describe in more detail.
A. In today’s evolving healthcare landscape, patient identification is becoming increasingly important, but also more complex and sophisticated. Names are changing. People are moving. Gender identity and family structures are changing.
Is the John Smith in our EHR the one who lives on Main Street or the one who lives on Maple Avenue in the next town? Is Michelle Johnson in our emergency room right now the person who had her appendix removed last year, or the patient we’re currently treating for Alzheimer’s—or both?
As the needs and identities of our patients evolve, healthcare technology must evolve with them. Healthcare leaders are increasingly recognizing that legacy identity resolution tools are no longer up to the task.
Nearly three-quarters of respondents to our recent survey are concerned or extremely concerned that inaccurate patient data is negatively impacting the quality of their care and their bottom line. What’s more, statistics show that historically 10% of medical records are duplicates due to mismanagement of patient identities and nearly a third of insurance claims are denied due to identity issues.
It doesn’t have to be that way. It is now much easier for healthcare organizations to correctly and more consistently match a patient with their data from different sources – even outside the EHR – to help organizations better understand their patients and rely on much more accurate data.
To transform healthcare IT infrastructure, you need to have the same patient data across all systems and across all organizations in the network. This has multiple benefits for providers and patients. It helps organizations provide patients and their providers with anywhere, anytime access to their health records.
Gives patients easier access to online portals. Ultimately, better data gives providers and patients a more seamless care experience while enabling a much more successful digital transformation across the healthcare organization.
Understanding who’s who in the healthcare enterprise also supports strategic initiatives such as mergers and acquisitions, consumer-centric transformation, equitable healthcare, risk management, denied claims and patient satisfaction.
After all, more advanced technology is not enough. To truly transform and remain competitive in the digital age, leading healthcare organizations realize that they also need to know who their current and future patients are as well as possible.