February 2023 | Report

Adopting Digital Mindsets: Where Healthcare Stakeholders Are Succeeding and Where They’re Falling Short

What does it take to become a digital healthcare organization? We asked 150 executives and senior admins about what matters most.

Adopting Digital Mindsets: Where Healthcare Stakeholders Are Succeeding and Where They’re Falling Short

Navigating the process of becoming a digitally enabled business is understandably challenging for hospitals, health systems, and other provider organizations. It requires an infusion of new ways of thinking and working throughout operations, predicated on a shared vision held by leadership and permeating the entire organization. But in the context of the other significant challenges that today’s healthcare organizations face—whether around the workforce, shifting market and regulatory pressures, or general economic uncertainty—it’s increasingly crucial that they realize this goal. 

That’s because the standard operational processes that yesterday’s healthcare organizations relied upon are unlikely to serve them well during periods of rapid and sweeping change—something the events of the last three years proved beyond doubt. But with talent shortages, new legislation, financial constraints and the imperative to deliver quality care (all while increasing operational efficiencies) now pressing upon them from all sides, healthcare organizations are in a position of essentially perpetual change and development. In fact, stiffer competition from new, tech-enabled market entrants is upping the ante, making it even more critical that these organizations transform if they are to thrive over the longer term. 

To better understand how healthcare leaders are thinking about this set of circumstances—and preparing to meet tomorrow’s—we teamed up with Healthcare Dive to survey 150 executives and senior administrators around the country. We wanted to learn more about healthcare leaders’ perspectives on digital operating models and their organizations’ progression in building digital capabilities so that we could share the resulting insights with the organizations we serve.  

Here are the top four findings our research uncovered: 

1. It’s unclear what “digital” really means to stakeholders in healthcare

Many survey respondents seem to equate “being digital” with technology adoption and data capture. This means that they’re probably not paying enough attention to the cultural and operational changes—those that go beyond tech and data—that enable an organization to transform its underlying operating model successfully and take meaningful advantage of the data at their disposal. Without a shared understanding of what “being digital” really entails, organizations may be doomed to implement a series of quick fixes (upgrading Wi-Fi or implementing an analytics tool) rather than making a strategic shift. 

2. Change management is a major challenge for healthcare organizations. So are sourcing innovation and capturing feedback

Survey participants recognize that gathering feedback from patients and clinicians is essential, but they struggle to collect it consistently and incorporate it into decision-making processes. They also have difficulty managing change and democratizing innovation, leaving much of the solutioning to executives. 

Interestingly, while only 12% of respondents noted effective change management as a top reason why digital initiatives fail, every other reason respondents selected can be read as symptoms of difficulty preparing for and managing change.

3. There’s a widening gap between what stakeholders see as the key indicators of success in their industry and what they can measure, especially in quantitative terms

This means that leaders are increasingly feeling a disconnect between their everyday business practices and the quad aim: driving down costs, improving clinical outcomes and providing better experiences for patients and providers. This isn’t to say that these things are inherently at odds, but that healthcare organizations tend to lack concrete ways of gauging their progress towards such goals. 

For instance, the most frequently indicated measures of the success of digital strategies were care quality metrics (like HEDIS measures, STAR ratings, or HCCs) and outcome metrics (like mortality rates, hospital-acquired infection rates, or readmission rates), all of which are undeniably important KPIs but not easy to consistently tie back to digital initiatives.

4. All of the above are exactly what digital is not

Becoming a digital organization is impossible without: 

  • a shared vision and aligned priorities 
  • focused investments in operating model transformation (as opposed to simply adding new tech) 
  • consistent, comprehensive feedback channels 
  • effective change management practices
  • broadly applicable notions of value and ROI whose relevance is immediately apparent, for business strategy and all aspects of daily operations. 

Want to learn more about how we arrived at these conclusions and our recommendations for how to address the related challenges? Download the full report. 

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