“I personally want to see more roles that look at HOW we capitalize on digital transformation and not just how to adopt it.”
In a recent interview with Brent Phillips, President & CEO of Regional Health, we explored, in collaboration with IIC Partners, the impact that digital transformation is having on healthcare and the patient-care life cycle.
How does digital transformation affect the patient care life cycle for your organization?
I would like to see digital transformation really shift the patient care life cycle paradigm on its head. Digital transformation can allow patients to receive care when they need it, in an environment where they need it—in their “lifespace.” This can be the home, office or even in the classroom. Reimbursement models will need to adapt to allow for this, but digital transformation in other aspects of our lives will push our patients to demand this type of care. Another example of this is the site AnyLabTestNow.com, which allows patients to order and review lab results for simple blood tests, hormone tests and genetic screening without a physician order. Why would a patient need to come to a traditional healthcare setting when these types of services are offered? We need to consider how we will tap into these new options and still provide traditional healthcare services for those that need it.
How does digital transformation change the demands in existing leadership structures and what new roles arise as a result of digital transformation?
The new role I have created at Regional Health, for the Chief Performance Officer, is a great example of a leadership role developed to support the changes that digital transformation is bringing. The idea of bringing together system-wide services such as enterprise intelligence, quality and operational performance management makes so much sense. This will allow us to better connect technology to the patient care life-cycle. This next comment may be controversial, but I think the role of the CMIO and CIO will diminish and disappear over time. All caregivers need to use technology ALL of the time, and this won’t be seen as a unique skill set but rather mandatory. Standardization is being driven by both technology and value-based care, which will also drive less need for IT development and support. Cloud technologies will create less reliance for on-site IT personnel. I personally want to see more roles that look at HOW we capitalize on digital transformation and not just how to adopt it.
In what ways does big data impact your organization and how can it improve the patient care experience?
I am not sure that “big data” is the term I would use. However, transformation of data to information will have a huge impact—if we approach it correctly. We need to know what the right “test questions” are and focus more on our use of data. This has been a challenge in every healthcare organization I have worked in. We need to start small, show value and process improvement through data and then expand. I think we will see more consolidation of data sources, and this will become advantageous for organizations like Regional Health. We will need to watch this space and understand how to tap into these sources. Technology that allows us to bring together disparate data is also changing and becoming less costly and more available, but there is a cultural challenge to overcome for institutions. Many people are stuck in the traditional data warehousing mentality and this can have a negative impact on transformation. Regional Health will benefit from data interoperability efforts, especially for people visiting remote areas who need our care. If we can connect with their home healthcare organizations and retrieve necessary data, this will allow for safe and efficient care delivery.
What are the largest challenges when it comes to digital transformation and patient care for your organization?
Cost. State-of-the-art technologies are not inexpensive and changes in reimbursement are not making it easy for us to continue to invest heavily in some of the infrastructure we need. At the same time, people are reluctant to move to the cloud which also isn’t necessarily inexpensive either. There is definitely a lack of skilled people available in data analytics and integration of technology. Finally, culture is a major challenge given that we haven’t been early adopters to technology in general and now we are playing catch-up.
How does digital transformation of other key players in the healthcare system (hospitals, health insurance, pharmaceutical companies) impact your business?
Our competition is no longer local—it is everywhere, even international. When a patient can conduct a virtual visit in a more convenient way than they can with Regional Health, how do we convince them to still come to us? There will also be technologies (e.g., remote monitoring, medical devices) that will allow for care to be delivered in different ways that we will need to evaluate for adoption. Insurance transformation (or lack thereof) is probably an area that can most negatively impact Regional Health. If we want to deliver care in different ways, but reimbursement isn’t available, this will halt our ability to take advantage of these digital advances.
What are your thoughts on the impact of technology on the patient life cycle and healthcare in general? Share them below in the Comments section.
Read additional insights in the full IIC Partners’ industry report, “Impact of Digital Transformation on the Patient Life Cycle,” which includes more interviews with top healthcare executives around the world.