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Cynthia Church, Chief Strategy Officer

It seems like everyone working in a hospital these days is grumpy—from doctors and nurses to medical assistants and patient registration—and for a good reason, as there is more to do than is humanly possible. 

While there’s a lot of talk from administrators about valuing “healthcare heroes,” there has been little to no concrete action to lighten the load of frontline care teams any time soon. 

So when there are too few people with too much to do, why aren’t digital health tools being given out like Halloween candy? What is the hold-up?

Let’s start with three common misconceptions about digital health tools.

Many believe that digital health tools:

  1. Are just downloadable apps 
  2. Require a lot of work to deploy and manage
  3. Will add additional complexity to care delivery

However, these myths are far from the truth. While there are certainly challenges to implementing a digital health program, there are also many opportunities for solving the aforementioned challenges currently plaguing health systems.  

Challenges

Health systems aren’t set up for whole-person care

When trying to gain patient loyalty, health systems need a centralized, coordinated approach that takes a holistic view of their care into account. The typical budgeting methods used by systems don’t support that. Many utilize fragmented digital health budgets split up by service line—there’s no ‘whole person care budget.’ 

Not to mention, a fee-for-service model doesn’t support comprehensive digital health initiatives. For example, even with the new CPT codes for remote patient monitoring, because many health systems can’t see into different portions of a patient’s remote care, especially if they are polychronic, they are nervous about regulatory risk. If they accidentally claim something twice because they’re unaware of the scope of a patient’s care, they could receive denied claims or get audited. 

Required internal change management

Getting clinicians to adopt new solutions is often the most challenging aspect of digital health, making internal change management a necessary element to ensure a digital health program’s success.

Workflows are so ingrained in a clinician’s day-to-day activities that a disruption in that, even if it simplifies it or will save them time in the long run, is often met with hesitancy. Clinicians are also extremely busy, so asking them to take the time to learn how to use a new tool they are already not excited about can be difficult.

Direct-to-consumer digital programs

Many digital programs currently available directly to consumers, sometimes through app stores, are high-level general wellness apps. There is a disconnect between wellness and preventative care in that clinicians don’t have an easy way to make sense of the data collected by apps and time spent trying to do so is not reimbursable in today’s healthcare payment models.  

Opportunities

Enhanced connection with patients

Digital patient engagement is an opportunity to keep patients connected with providers and care teams without always being face-to-face. An enhanced connection with patients creates better long-term relationships built on regular interactions, whether in-person or digitally. 

It also allows clinicians to spend more one-on-one face time with patients who need it the most instead of patients whose issues are less severe and easily solved through a digital program. Fewer, in-depth interactions versus many surface-level interactions ultimately help reduce clinician burnout levels. 

A deeper understanding of patient health and care

Creating a coordinated digital approach gives healthcare staff a deeper, broader view of what’s happening with patients across multiple areas of their health history and care plans. 

Time and cost savings

While one of the misconceptions is that digital health tools require a lot of work or add complexity, automation is an opportunity to save time, cut costs and increase operational efficiencies.  

Here’s how: 

  • Heightened ability to measure performance
  • Increased collaboration across the care team
  • Improved clinical workflows

Typical results of a comprehensive digital health solution

A comprehensive digital health solution should result in: 

  • 50-80% reduction in IT and IS costs
  • 2-3 minutes of clinical staff time saved, translating to improved physician satisfaction and an integrated physician workflow
  • Increased patient satisfaction and higher solution ROI
  • 2-5x increase in revenue-generating activities

Examples of health systems getting it right

There is no one size fits all, and an effective digital health strategy looks different depending on the organization. 

Here are two examples of different organizations using robust digital health programs to meet their goals. 

Duke Health

Duke Health struggled to share educational materials with its patients. To remedy this issue, they use Xealth as a rules-based engine to automate the distribution of these assets and house them digitally for subsequent use. 

These assets include:

  • Webpages they developed or vetted
  • Patient-specific educational resources
  • Programs available to the patients

Froedtert

Froedtert wanted to improve their clinicians’ ability to monitor diabetic patients through a coordinated, long-term approach to care. They also wanted to help diabetic patients adhere to their care plans by removing common barriers that hinder them from staying on track. 

To accomplish this, they partnered with Network Health to implement a digital health platform called Glooko that collects and shares their diabetes data and removes the need for patients to pay. Once prescribed through Xealth, this data is easily accessible within patients’ records—resulting in better health outcomes and integrated access to patient information for clinicians. 

Take advantage of a digital health strategy

When a digital health strategy is done right, it enhances patient connections, creates a more holistic view of patients and their care, and saves health systems time and money. 

A comprehensive digital health strategy is a competitive advantage, and those who fully embrace these programs will see the best results.

Learn how you can seize these opportunities with our digital health integration platform.

 

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