The global pandemic created unprecedented situations for every industry. A large portion of the workforce was either laid off or stretched extremely thin. Revenue all around took a substantial hit, and budgets had to accommodate more. This was especially true for the healthcare industry in which frontline workers fought COVID-19 every day while also serving their regular patients. Circumstances demanded that healthcare organizations explore every option at their disposal to continue to provide service to their patients during the most difficult of times.
This meant that hospitals had to accelerate their digital transformation journey while the revenue was at an all-time low and expenses were at an all-time high. Revenue suffered since regular patients weren’t able to visit hospitals in person or schedule a routine surgery. Staff members had to be equipped with special PPEs and more ventilators had to be ordered, all of which significantly increased hospital costs. To serve regular patients once again and stabilize revenue, hospitals had to accelerate digital transformation and change management during the worst possible time.
According to a study, IT budgets at healthcare provider organizations are one of the lowest when compared to the rest of the industries. While other industries spend an average of 8.2 percent of their total revenue on IT, healthcare providers spend only five percent of their total revenue. Furthermore, United States providers budget their IT spending even less (three percent of the total revenue) compared to the rest of the world (seven percent). Hospital staffs have been required to do more with less for a while.
Because of this limited budget to execute IT vision, each hospital department competes against the other for the same budget. And, as a result, one department, one initiative, or one use case that demonstrates the strongest need usually wins the bulk of the budget. Some of the most common or most popular initiatives include:
- Updating the EHR
- Patient experience is correlated directly with how a physician and a medical staff member interact with the patient
- Make patient information and medical history easily available
- Avoid asking the patient to repeat themself
- Empower staff to listen to the patient rather than spend more time looking at their computers or filing information during the patient visit
- Introducing AI for decision support
- Make the diagnostic process fast and accurate
- Balance the uncertainty in the decision process by leveraging a system-based solution
- Utilize factors not normally considered in the decision process for better results
- Leveraging telehealth technology
- Serve the underserved and socio-economically challenged
- Continue to engage with patients with chronic illnesses who need regular support
- Help maintain and/or build back the revenue stream
But focusing only on one of these initiatives is a long-term detriment to these healthcare organizations, and I’d like to explain why.
One Key Mistake
One key mistake that healthcare organizations make is that they focus narrowly on a single solution rather than focusing on a broader picture. To help illustrate this scenario, consider this: suppose you are on the Oregon trail with your family and with limited food. In this case, pretend the family is the hospital and its workers, and the food is the limited budget. A hospital’s journey is a digital transformation that allows it to reduce risks (similar to the ones a family would find on the Oregon trail).
On the Oregon trail, your objective is to help your family survive and thrive. Therefore, you wouldn’t only feed your most hungry child while the others starve. That approach will ensure that your family, as a unit, will fail in its journey. Instead, you would probably want to ration your food so that collectively you are all working together as one unit and are stronger together. Similarly, in order to thrive, I believe that it’s in hospitals’ best interest to engage in a complete and cohesive strategy rather than focus on a single strategy.
The Correct Way
Hospitals are now beginning to look at their entire tech stack to see how they can build a cohesive IT strategy and offer a better 360-degree patient and care team experience. By consolidating apps, building end-to-end value streams, and developing a patient-centered approach, providers can bring efficiency and better service to the healthcare community. Below is one of the approaches through which the provider community has successfully and quickly delivered results.
With a limited budget, it is difficult for a provider to balance all of its priorities. Studies show that healthcare organizations that balance diverse technology objectives deliver better results and patient satisfaction. Michael Porter and Thomas Lee call it a “Value Agenda” in their HBR article, The Strategy That Will Fix Health Care.
Delivering specialized and specific objective-driven IT initiatives could be great for the organization, but that won’t be enough to set an organization apart from its competitors or deliver the best patient experience. Building a cohesive strategy that includes AI, cloud solution, decision support, EHR, marketing, and provider management will set the organization up for success—quicker.
Salesforce offers more than just a CRM to organizations. With the help of MuleSoft, Salesforce has extended its capabilities to connect to practically any IT system. With the flexible platform of Salesforce coupled with Einstein automation and data analytics, organizations can put the patients and the care team at the center of their service. Technology doesn’t have to be a limiting factor in business strategy and care management. With the right solution, technology can fuel the strategy long term, and help everyone successfully make their journey through the Oregon Trail.