By Maggie Peña, vice president of client services, Interlace Health.
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted and changed the world in countless ways, including forever altering the world of healthcare. Of these changes, one of the biggest was the explosion of healthcare technologies.
Health systems’ digital strategies accelerated rapidly at the start of the pandemic. Telehealth’s growth and a significant increase in the adoption of digital solutions changed the way care was offered. While plenty of health systems understood the importance of implementing new technology in healthcare and had plans in place to do so, they largely hadn’t turned those plans into action.
But once the pandemic took the world by storm, the digital front door was opened faster and wider than anyone could have anticipated.
This digital transformation in healthcare has shown providers the importance of digital healthcare solutions and how powerfully they can impact operations and care. These technologies can increase patients’ access to providers and lower the costs of quality care. But their impact also extends to providers.
How Healthcare Technology Transforms Workflows
Health systems have long relied on complex and often inefficient processes. In an industry where the stakes are so high, changing the way things are done can create unwanted risk. But digital solutions have the power to transform workflows and traditional processes — especially those that rely on paper.
Manual, paper-based processes are often inefficient. Every element of healthcare operations is rooted in data collection, analysis, and storage, which creates a tremendous need for uninterrupted and streamlined processes. Digital healthcare solutions offer that capability by automatically assigning, populating, and archiving the forms used to gather and store this data. They also decrease the risk of human error and the time staff members spend on cumbersome manual tasks.
It’s important to remember that not all digital healthcare solutions are created equal. One-size-fits-all technologies are insufficient because healthcare is not one-size-fits-all. Every state has different regulations, every organization has different processes, every patient has different needs, and every payor has different information requirements. This means digital solutions have to be flexible, tailorable, and interoperable to truly transform an organization.
Finding and Adopting the Right Digital Healthcare Solutions
It’s absolutely critical to find technologies that truly fit the needs of your healthcare organization. Use the following guidance to understand and identify the right digital solutions for you:
- Identify your goals and get strategic alignment.
Before ever thinking about the myriad technologies available, you’ll want to consider your goals. You can’t identify and implement the right technologies if you don’t have a clear vision and plan. Work with decision makers in your organization or system to find strategic alignment, specify what you want and need the technology to do, and identify how you’ll measure its success. Once you have that foundation, you can move forward on solid ground.
- Designate a selection team.
Much like you need a clear and unified vision for how digital solutions will impact your organization, you also need a clear and unified team leading the charge. Form a group and appoint a process champion, who will be responsible for identifying and vetting technologies. This person should deeply understand the intricacies of your organizational goals and needs, and they should also have a nuanced understanding of the technologies available.
- Look for proven solutions.
When selecting digital solutions for your organization, you’ll want to prioritize quality and proven, established partners — and be sure to do your homework before making any decisions. Take the time to get client references for different solutions providers, review online information, and look for providers that specialize in the area this technology serves. Ensuring you implement technologies from credible partners with long-standing, strong reputations will only benefit your health system.
- Dig into the details.
As you vet digital solutions, make sure you’re prepared to get into the granular details. Don’t make any decisions based solely on big-picture promises; take a close look at everything from usability to security. Is the technology easy to use? Will your staff embrace it? Does the solution provider offer robust customer support? Is the solution compliant? You’ll want to have answers to all of these questions (and many more) before you make any decisions.
- Don’t overbuy.
Finally, don’t buy anything for the sake of buying. Technology is rapidly advancing and transforming healthcare, which creates pressure to have every new solution in place all at once. But this approach only hurts your ability to ensure the best solutions are implemented at the best times to create the best results. Focus on which digital solutions will accomplish your goals, making those your first priority.
Digital healthcare solutions and technologies will continue to revolutionize the way providers offer care as well as how patients receive it. As you focus on opening the digital front door, be intentional and strategic about the solutions you adopt. Know what you need to achieve, how you plan to achieve it, and how you’ll measure success. With those considerations at the center of your decision, you’re certain to find the right technology for you.