Digital Transformation: Moving Past ‘Just Keeping the Lights On’

I recently attended the HIMSS19 Global Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, where I came away with an even stronger realization that digital transformation is a work in progress for many healthcare organizations, and particularly so in the provider marketplace.

Top thought leaders from across the industry shared both new and reoccurring global healthcare themes. Breakout sessions covered a wide range of topics including clinical informatics and clinician engagement, telehealth, consumerism, patient engagement and digital/connected health. Required digital transformation and innovation were common threads across most of these diverse topics. One significant takeaway for me was the realization of the broad differences in how provider organizations currently understand and adopt digital tools and capabilities. The majority believe that implementing digital transformation to drive innovation would be smart, however their bandwidth is quite narrow, and budgets remain extremely tight.

A great example of this is the industry adoption of EMRs. Billions of dollars have been invested in the implementation of EMRs to help improve not only clinical and financial outcomes, but (in some cases), support the very survival of many healthcare organizations. Although these systems are generating massive amounts of valuable patient data, they are also creating substantial maintenance and production requirements. As an ‘unintended consequence,’ many providers find themselves largely focused on these support requirements with little or no time and/or resources to explore digital transformation and innovation. Ironically, it is those innovations that could greatly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their organizations, drive better outcomes for the patient populations they serve and promote growth of the organization within the industry.

In addition to the challenges of ‘keeping the lights on’ many IT leaders state they face internal competition justifying their need to drive digital transformation and innovation. Some say it is the ‘EMR halo effect’ reflective of the large investments made in IT over the last decade. Attention is now often being drawn to other areas of the organization where investment has been historically light. Other organizations have a much harder time justifying an IT innovation, such as ‘automating testing,’ versus the purchase of an MRI or other device that may have a ‘clearer’ ROI associated with it.

Perhaps the most significant takeaway (and confirmation) for me was that the majority of provider organizations are seeing the need for digital transformation and, for the reasons mentioned above, struggle to find the ‘bandwidth’ to execute. That is exactly why we developed the emids approach to Application Management Solutions (AMS) as a much-needed resolution for many of these organizations. Our approach frees up IT teams, increasing their capacity to focus on more innovative and critical project work.

We all know consumerism has taken hold of the healthcare industry, and it will only increase in the coming years. emids is uniquely qualified to partner with our customers, applying digital tools and capabilities to significantly improve their efficiency and ability to drive enhanced outcomes. I am looking forward to the impact we can have from playing a role in advancing organizations from ‘just keeping the lights on’ to significantly improving the value they bring to the populations they serve.

Let the journey continue.

Tim McMullen is president of emids’ Provider business. A proven change agent, Tim brings 30-plus years’ experience building and leading high-performing teams around the globe for Fortune 500 and entrepreneurial enterprises. He is actively engaged in moving the industry forward, serving as a founding member of the College of Health Information Management Executives (CHIME) Foundation. He also is a member of the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS), the Health Research and Development Institute and the Scottdale Institute. Be sure to connect with Tim on LinkedIn

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