Report: Most Health Systems Still Lack Long-Term Digital Strategy

Healthcare’s digital transformation is still in the early stages of maturity relative to other sectors, but CIOs do understand the imperative to drive digitalization, according to a new report from advisory firm Damo Consulting.

The report’s findings were revealed in focus group discussions with nearly 40 CIOs and senior health IT leaders who are members of the College of Health Information Management Executives (CHIME). When asked to define digital transformation in healthcare, 60 percent of respondents said it is about using digital technologies to reimagine business processes and customer experiences, while others stated that it means delivering healthcare when, where and how consumers want it; or using data, analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to improve outcomes.

According to the researchers, today, health systems fall into four key models of digital adoption: reliance on electronic health record (EHR) systems to drive digital engagement (Model 1); digital strategy singularly focused on virtualization of care (Model 2); stand-alone digital initiatives driven by internal demand (Model 3); and strategic investments in long-term digital health platforms (Model 4).

Most health systems, especially smaller and mid-tier ones, operate in Models 1 and 2 and only the nation’s largest health systems are operating in Model 4. The majority of CIOs in the focus group, however, acknowledge that all enterprises need to shift to Model 4, the findings revealed.

“In my discussions with health system CIOs, what emerged is that not only are most health systems in the early stages of adoption, but there is no clear consensus on what digital transformation looks like or how to achieve it,” said Paddy Padmanabhan, CEO, Damo Consulting. “Most health systems consider their EHR system as their digital strategy or are developing standalone solutions on an as-needed basis, without a long-term digital strategy in mind.”