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Healthcare technology insights for competitive value-based care strategy

Aligning 2021 Healthcare Strategic Priorities with Cost-Saving Considerations

2020 saw the explosion of digital health fruition to accommodate remote and adaptive care needs during COVID-19. But in 2021, while still navigating the next phase of the pandemic, healthcare organizations need to push digital health innovation beyond initial operational survival tactics to more digitally frictionless patient-clinician exchange experiences. Doing so better aligns footing in the return to value-based care initiatives while expanding patient care reach and competitive health system growth. To realistically attain this strategic vision, see three healthcare leadership considerations for next-level digital health advancement while driving IT support savings, starting with team flexibility and coordination.

  1. Multi-functional team flexibility
    Many health systems are balancing continued COVID-19 care and vaccination demand on top of significant operational changes, like new facility acquisitions, EHR new version upgrades or entire EHR new system transitions. Having an IT support team who can easily flex in and out of project area needs is pivotal for nimble response without draining resource costs or adding on ramp up and training time. Healthcare leadership should ensure IT support teams not only understand the EHR system but also cross-organizational workflow and communication to be able to actively adjust processes when needed.

    As short-term targets change, leadership must effectively communicate prioritization, responsibility and support gaps, utilizing team skill matrixes to allocate resources. They should maintain strong lines of communication bi-directionally to align quick-moving changes and be transparent about concerns or trouble spots. Just because things are fast-paced doesn't mean staff can cut steps. Ensure analysts are still properly documenting changes, testing, and follow-up monitoring, as well as following data governance guidelines, and maintaining a cybersecurity lens. What seems like an obvious quick decommissioning target or small workflow adjustment can have significant impact downstream. Having a team of multi-functional resources who can understand, follow and resolve downstream issues before they become priority-one tickets significantly curbs later resolution time, possible clinical care or business office delays, or cross-department blame games.

  2. Data analytics' impact on issue mitigation and cost savings
    From a data and analytics perspective, 2021 is seeing a continued focus on operational efficiency amid fluctuating patient care demand. Priority is not only on command hub coordination and situational awareness, but also on daily operational support and EHR efficiencies for both clinical care and cost-savings opportunities. An often overlooked area for meaningful data analytics application is the Tier 1+ IT help desk. Powered by Dimensional Insights – 2021 Best in KLAS Winner for Health Data Analytics and Business Intelligence – FlexView strategically arms healthcare leaders with the IT support data insights they need to better address IT utilization across their growing health systems. Its insights deliver performance accountability to ensure hospital ROI. Hourly trends identify busy times to determine areas for additional IT staffing or training. Incident analysis depicts bigger picture departmental workflow or system education hindrances. As a clear view into organization-wide EHR use, this is especially helpful during mission critical events, like crisis management, new system go lives or EHR upgrades to detect areas of concern.

    Beyond the IT help desk, healthcare organizations are now more focused on leveraging predictive hospital data analytics toward consumer needs and patient engagement, since they cannot rely as much on immediate feedback of human interaction in the shift to virtual and remote care.

  3. Where healthcare leaders are targeting spending
    According to the 2021 Gartner CIO Survey: A Healthcare Providers' Perspective*, "Healthcare Provider CIOs report increased investment in IT across the board as compared to 2020. Training and IT headcount showed the greatest increase, likely as a result of the shift to remote work and dramatic increase in virtual care." In terms of top 2021 plans for changes in specific technology investments, business intelligence/data analytics is poised for the highest increase in investment at 66%. Notably keeping up with 2020's momentum, "47% of respondents also expect increased investment in consumer/user experience" initiatives.

    Whereas 2020 clearly pivoted to crisis response, 2021 is a year of assessment to make sure the right infrastructure investments to enable and maintain emerging technologies are in place. Healthcare leaders should evaluate and leverage vendor partnerships that best support new digital capabilities but also offer dependability and adaptability to keep up with continued health system innovation.

Closing Thoughts
COVID-19 created dual complexities of burdensome healthcare provider revenue strain and bursting digital health demand. In the more permanent shift to virtual care, healthcare organizations should look to IT to effectively propel adaptive care delivery initiatives, better align health system competitive growth and unify the end-user experience while building in support flexibility.


Stay tuned for additional healthcare leadership insights.



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*Gartner, Inc., 2021 CIO Agenda: A Healthcare Providers' Perspective, Kate McCarthy, November 20, 2020

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.