Many hospital executives don’t have a digital strategy: Report

A new survey by Panda Health found most organizations spend months on finding digital solutions, but still aren’t sure they made the right choice. And many hospitals don’t have an overall vision.

Many healthcare organizations are spending a great deal of time on finding new digital solutions, but many aren’t sure about the options they have chosen.

That’s a key takeaway from a new report on healthcare technology by Panda Health, a digital marketplace for health systems. The company, which evaluates health vendors to help hospitals find the right partners, was founded by CentraCare, Gundersen Health System, and ThedaCare.

The report includes survey responses from 100 top hospital executives.

Two out of three companies spend at least six months evaluating the right company to provide digital health services, according to the report. The survey found 31% of hospital executives say it takes 6 to 9 months, 15% said the search lasts 9 to 12 months, while 20% responded it takes longer than a year.

Even with that searching, most hospital executives said they don’t know if they made the right choice. About a quarter said they were confident they picked the right vendor with the right technology.

Most hospital executives surveyed (90%) said they think it’s important to have a digital strategy, but the survey found almost half (48%) of all healthcare system leaders said they don’t have a digital strategy.

Virtually all of those surveyed (98%) said a digital health strategy would improve patient outcomes, while 96% said it would improve productivity, help clinicians and reduce burnout.

Almost all of the executives surveyed (95%) said it’s challenging to narrow down the list of technologies to consider when searching for vendors.

Most hospital executives surveyed (91%) said they were offering telemedicine appointments, while another 5% said they would be offering virtual care this year.

A slight majority of hospital executives (56%) said their institutions were offering remote patient monitoring. Another 24% said they would initiate it this year, and 15% said they would begin remote monitoring in the next three years.

Many systems haven't developed patient engagement platforms. Only half (50%) of the executives said their hospitals or systems offered self-service payments, while only 46% said their hospitals allowed patients to go online and schedule appointments.

The hospitals that have digital health strategies found themselves better able to pivot during the COVID-19 pandemic, the report suggested. Hospitals with comprehensive digital plans were more likely to move forward with digital health solutions during the pandemic than those without strategies (71% to 41%).

Hospitals without a comprehensive digital health strategy should consider creating a position to devise long-term plans, the report stated.

Sage Growth Partners was commissioned by Panda Health to conduct the survey of health executives. The executives surveyed were employed by short- and long-term care hospitals, critical access hospitals and other specialty hospitals.