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Aaron SheedyAaron Sheedy, COO & co-founder of Xealth

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Telehealth Academy in Nashville, where I participated in the panel discussion “The New Models of Care Delivery.” 

Other panelists represented a variety of perspectives in the industry, including:

  • Brad Crotty, MD, Chief Digital Engagement Officer, The Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin Health System
  • Brian Wayling, Executive Director, Technology & Development, Intermountain Healthcare
  • Katie Smith Green, Head of Content, Current Health, Best Buy Health Company
  • Ryan Starnes, Senior Director, Operations, Vanderbilt Hospital at Home, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • Steve R. Ommen, Medical Director, Consumer Products & Platform Strategy, Center for Digital Health, Mayo Clinic
  • Tara Horr, MD, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • Juli Stover, Chief Strategy Officer, eVisit

While our discussion covered a lot of ground, we kept coming back to the idea of how to articulate the value of digital health amid the financial pressure health systems are going through. 

This financial crunch puts added pressure on the digital health ecosystem, everything from how health systems implement telehealth to rethinking staffing models as well as planning and executing an enterprise-wide digital strategy. Can major health systems accomplish these goals? Can they afford it? Can they afford not to? 

Paradoxically, even though budgets are being cut at many health systems—and will probably be cut next year, too—it’s more important than ever for health system leaders to act quickly to make progress on launching digital health assets that can scale across their enterprise. 

Value-Based Care in Name Only

While digital health tools will likely be a revenue boost for value-based care initiatives and shared savings models, most health systems are currently value based in name only.  

We joked that any time someone on stage mentioned “value-based care,” they should receive a small shock to punish them for ignoring market realities.

The reality is that most reimbursements still stem from the traditional fee-for-service model. One recent study found that only 38.2% of healthcare dollars flowed through a value-based care model

So what’s a digital health leader to do? How do you convince your CFO of the value of digital health?  

3 Arguments to Convince Your CFO that Digital Health is Worth It

#1: IT/IS efficiency:
Unfortunately, a health system’s IT/IS team is one of the leading bottlenecks in deploying digital health assets. This is NOT because they suck—far from it. It’s because the EHR tools they have to integrate with make even simple tasks like deploying a YouTube video in connection with a patient visit difficult. Today’s digital health infrastructure doesn’t lend itself to pulling this off efficiently. 

At Xealth, we help IT teams focus on the big stuff while we take care of the digital health formulary. I joked on stage, can you imagine a world where adding a drug to your Rx formulary was gated by IT instead of efficacy? Because that’s the world we live in when it comes to digital health solutions.

With quicker time to deployment and a lower volume of project hours, our clients can see over 50% reduction in IS/IT costs.

#2: Clinician productivity, especially for nurses!
No one needs to be reminded of the high cost of hiring and keeping your essential nursing and MA staff. It is getting so bad that some health systems have had to cancel procedures due to staffing shortages. 

Now, I’m not going to claim Xealth solves that problem unilaterally—but we can help. Many of the tools that Xealth can integrate with or automate have a direct impact on the reduction or elimination of “clicks” in the EHR by your frontline staff. Our favorite moments are getting nurse and MA feedback that our system eliminated hours of work by converting an analog process to a digital one. There are literally HUNDREDS of these examples in your health system right now—and your nursing staff hates it. We help you find those time sucks and automate them so your team can spend more time on patient care instead of clicks.

Leveraging automation and integrated clinical workflows, our clients typically realize a 2-3 minute savings per patient order and an improved clinician experience.  

#3: Competitive imperative:
The final point is that the competition for the digital front door of care is more intense than ever and getting fiercer every day. Any health system that doesn’t win the race for the digital loyalty of their current and future patients will gradually become a tower running complex procedures while fighting for diminishing reimbursements. 

Payors are investing heavily in training consumers to start virtually with them. From there, they will steer care toward the most cost-effective option, or in Optum’s case, into a care setting they own. 

New entrants in healthcare are also making a play for your patients, including Kroger, Best Buy, Premise, and many more participating in the Telehealth Academy. These innovators know how to engage consumers, and rest assured they’re applying these tactics to engage your patients while you’re busy fighting for a budget. 

Digital Health is a Business Imperative

With fierce competition from regional health systems, payors, large employers, and consumer brands getting into healthcare, large health systems can’t afford to rest on their laurels when it comes to digital health. 

If you don’t virtually engage your patients in their health—these other players will. And that should be reason enough for your CFO to hand over the keys to a digital health budget. 

Learn how Xealth’s health data aggregation platform can increase IS/IT efficiencies, improve the clinician experience, and help you fend off the competition for your patients.

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