Why hospitals need more proactive digital health acquisition strategies | David Harvey

Implementing digital health solutions can help hospitals attract and retain more patients amid increasing competition from industry disruptors.

While hospitals and health systems ramp up their efforts to acquire—and reap the benefits from—digital health solutions, a significant barrier stands in their way: Time.

As evidenced in a recent Chief Healthcare Executive article, many organizations are struggling to act with speedand confidencewhen attempting to find, evaluate, and implement new digital health solutions.

This prolonged acquisition process means hospitals face significant delays in experiencing the various benefits of digital health solutions—which include increasing efficiency and decreasing costs, improving staff satisfaction, preventing burnout, and enhancing performance in value-based payment models.

Quickly and effectively implementing digital health solutions can also help hospitals attract and retain more patients amid increasing competition from industry disruptors. Amazon’s recent acquisition of One Medical, for example, will further raise the stakes for hospitals to acquire new, consumer-friendly digital health technologies that help attract and retain patients.

Speed in implementing digital health solutions is also key as hospitals work to quickly respond to the following industry changes:

1. Hospital-to-home movement. The pandemic served as an impetus for driving care to the home. It also increased consumer expectations related to the ease and convenience of remote care. Digital health solutions, such as telemedicine/virtual care and remote patient monitoring, can help hospitals adjust to this new normal, build new revenue streams, and succeed in value-based payment models. Importantly, these solutions can also help hospitals meet growing consumer expectations related to remote care offerings.

2. Continued consumerism shift. Digital health solutions, such as advanced patient scheduling, patient financial engagement, unified patient messaging, and digital patient intake, are critical to attracting and retaining patients. For example, most patients now expect the ability to easily schedule appointments and pay bills online. Hospitals that aren’t offering these services risk losing out to the competition.

3. Workforce optimization pressures. It’s no secret that the healthcare industry is wrestling with rising rates of burnout and labor shortages. Digital health solutions, such as those related to enhancing staff wellness, credentialing, and AI scribes, can help. The solutions help automate many tasks, improve staff productivity, and boost staff satisfaction.

How hospitals can move faster

Developing an enterprise-wide plan that informs decisions related to the acquisition, implementation, use, and management of digital health solutions is one of the first steps hospitals can take.

This plan will accelerate the digital health solution evaluation and contracting process because it will foster alignment among all key stakeholders. It will also ensure all processes and requirements are determined well in advance of starting any digital health acquisition project.

While the digital health plan can be incremental and iterative, proactivity is key. Mapping a long-term view of objectives will make it easier to identify solutions for seamless integration, and it will lay the foundation for future investments in care delivery, talent, data management, and cybersecurity, as noted in Deloitte’s The Hospital of the Future Report.

An unbiased partner that specializes in evaluating vendors based on critical criteria, such as interoperability, compliance, and cybersecurity requirements, can further streamline the acquisition process and reduce both friction and risk. This partner can document the organization’s strategic goals, business needs, pain points, and requirements, and then present a short list of pre-vetted, appropriate, best-in-class vendors hand-selected to address their unique challenges.

Overall, a trusted partner can accelerate speed to value and ROI for hospitals and health systems. That means staff members and clinicians will gain access to critical digital solutions more quickly, patients will experience the positive impacts of these solutions earlier, and the hospital will recognize the volume-driving and revenue-enhancing benefits sooner.

By partnering to adopt a proactive approach, healthcare organizations are empowered to act quickly and confidently, become more agile, and develop a future-proof digital health strategy with benefits that drive long-term quality and financial improvements.

David Harvey is CEO of Panda Health. He is a tech entrepreneur who was a senior founding member of Formativ, the PE-backed spinout from Northwell that built and commercialized a patient engagement platform of tech and services.