Healthcare's Digital Frontier: 5 Key Insights and a To-Don't List Approach

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By CereCore Media Coverage | Apr 26, 2024

3 minute read CereCore News| IT Advisory| IT Strategy

In a recent CHIME Leader to Leader episode, Peyman Zand, Chief Strategy Officer at CereCore, spoke with Russ Branzell, CEO/President at CHIME, discussing how to manage the changes occurring in healthcare due to digital transformation push. They shared crucial insights on ways to adopt new technology while maintaining a focus on patient-centric care and operational efficiencies. Here are some of Peyman’s insights for senior digital health leaders as they navigate the evolving digital healthcare terrain.

Healthcare's Digital Frontier 

The digital revolution has reshaped healthcare, bringing both opportunities and challenges. Finding the right balance between embracing digital innovation and maintaining efficient, economical and clinically effective operations is necessary for healthcare organizations. Transitioning into the digital realm involves more than keeping up with the latest technologies. It's a fundamental shift in healthcare delivery. 

The shift to digital adoption extends beyond traditional technology upgrades. Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) are equipped to advance various aspects of healthcare, from Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) to improving population health. This transition will rely on tools like AI to facilitate value-based care (VBC) migration and enhance population health management. There's also increased focus on clinical workflow optimization, aimed at giving nurses and doctors more time with patients. 

In addition, cybersecurity remains a critical concern as malicious actors continue to evolve their tactics and seem to stay one step ahead. Implementing effective threat intelligence analysis and cybersecurity measures is crucial to safeguard patient data and organizational integrity. 

Cybersecurity Challenges 

Amid heightened cybersecurity threats, healthcare organizations face financial and labor constraints while meeting the need to optimize systems for efficient operations. This convergence poses a significant challenge to the resilience of healthcare systems, requiring a strategic, head-on approach. 

What we have learned is that the traditional approach to cybersecurity may be too slow as bad actors are advancing at a more rapid pace. To combat this, we have devised processes to maintain an edge and help identify vulnerabilities in advance, using techniques the US government and finance industry are using, which have been more effective. 

Trends Impacting Healthcare 

AI and robotic process automation (RPA) are on the brink of revolutionizing healthcare delivery, streamlining operations, enhancing patient outcomes, and facilitating the transition to Value Based Care (VBC) models. Strategic investment in AI tools and platforms can help healthcare organizations stay ahead of the curve and adapt to the evolving landscape. 

Part of healthcare leaders' job is to project the future and anticipate industry trends. AI and robotic process automation are emerging as pivotal drivers of change in healthcare. However, it's crucial to recognize that current AI tools represent the tip of the iceberg in terms of potential impact. 

AI is already being applied beyond clinical care, as tools designed for HR management and AI platforms evolve within electronic health record (EHR) systems like Epic. Establishing dedicated AI task forces ensures responsible and ethical deployment of AI in healthcare, developing controls and policies to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and ethical standards. 

Changing Role of Digital Health Leaders 

Senior digital health leaders play a vital role required to drive organizational strategy and foster innovation in healthcare. Interaction with peers and stakeholders at industry events underscores the importance of digital innovation and signals a shift toward a more technology-centric approach to addressing industry challenges. 

As healthcare organizations prioritize digital transformation, senior digital health leaders are taking on additional responsibilities beyond traditional IT functions. Collaboration with other industry organizations enables shared best practices and the development of innovative solutions to common challenges. 

Healthcare organizations must carefully allocate resources to ensure investments are directed toward areas of greatest need, which tend to have the greatest return on investment (ROI). Thorough assessments of where money and efforts are spent, along with identifying areas where optimization efforts will yield the most significant benefits, are essential. Creating a "to don’t" list, deprioritizing less critical initiatives in favor of those with more immediate impact, can help with prioritization. 

Insights from surveys by organizations like CHIME and internal assessments conducted in collaboration with clients offer valuable data to inform prioritization efforts. This allows for more precise allocation of resources, better prioritization of initiatives, and improved governance overall. With these insights, healthcare organizations can enhance their resilience to financial constraints, labor shortages, and cybersecurity threats, ultimately optimizing their systems for more efficient and effective operations. 

Approach to Personal and Professional Growth 

A balance between personal growth and organizational development involves collaboration, networking, and ongoing learning. Increased participation in CHIME and ongoing training opportunities indicates that digital transformation extends beyond IT. Involvement in the community and fostering collaborative environments contribute to growth. As a senior leader, maintaining this balance involves reaching out to colleagues, dedicating time for research, and engaging with leaders from diverse backgrounds. 

Listen to the conversation on the CHIME Digital Health Leaders podcast with Peyman Zand and Russ Branzell.  

Additional Resources 

Six Cybersecurity Points Healthcare CIOs Should Explain to Their Boards 

CIOs Rank Top Healthcare IT Priorities and Pressures for 2024 (Part 1) 

CIOs on Facing 2024 Challenges: Hire Contractors and Invest in Automation (Part 2) 

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