Two-Thirds of U.S. Healthcare Providers Are Behind the Curve In Digital Health Transformation

Nearly two-thirds of healthcare providers rate themselves as being behind the curve on their digital health initiatives, citing clinician resistance and interoperability of legacy systems with digital/mobile technologies as the top barriers, according to new research from Unisys Corporation.

On behalf of Unisys, HIMSS surveyed 220 IT decision makers/influencers at U.S. hospitals and health systems and asked them to rank their organization based on how they are leveraging digital and mobile technologies to improve the patient experience, lower the cost of care delivery and improve clinician/staff efficiencies. They were then rated as being ahead of the curve (early adopters/early majority) or behind the curve (late majority/laggards).

Of those surveyed, 64 percent rated themselves as being behind the curve, including 20 percent who were rated as laggards. Notably, only 11 percent of organizations were rated as early adopters when it came to adoption and implementation of digital technologies.

When asked about the barriers to advancing digital health initiatives, “behind the curve” respondents cited challenges starting with clinician resistance to adopting new solutions (51 percent) and difficulties integrating legacy systems with new digital/mobile technologies (50 percent). Availability of skilled IT staff (48 percent) and the identification/remediation of cybersecurity threats (45 percent) were also highly cited as challenges.

Jeff Livingstone
Jeff Livingstone

“These survey findings cannot be taken lightly, as we believe that being on the high end of the digital health continuum is positively correlated with reduced costs, improved efficiencies and most importantly, improved patient outcomes,” said Jeff R. Livingstone, PhD, vice president and global head, life sciences and healthcare, Unisys. “The survey also demonstrates that healthcare information technology needs to adopt modern technology platforms that have interoperability, transparency and efficiency at their core. Legacy healthcare systems do not easily meet these objectives and are costly to implement and operate.”

The survey also looked at the key initiatives that digital health technologies support. Notably, only 16 percent of laggards had a comprehensive data governance plan, and only nine percent of laggards said their organization was able to successfully apply data to determine the best course of action, compared to 83 percent and 78 percent of early adopters, respectively. Additionally, only 13 percent of laggards said that their medical devices could securely communicate with electronic health records.

“Access to real-time data is critical to healthcare providers and patients today. In many cases, providers can work with trusted vendors capable of offering both healthcare information technology and security strategies to help them better utilize and protect their patients’ data,” said Livingstone.

For more information on the study results, please click here.

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