Digital tools, technology, and analytics are redefining what's possible for healthcare organizations. With so much potential, leaders are challenged to choose technology that both addresses immediate needs and lays the foundation for growth and change. Striking that balance takes careful planning and execution.
Huron’s recent survey of more than 300 U.S. healthcare leaders provides insight into the strategic priorities, outcomes, and challenges influencing their organization’s digital strategies. From the research, five key findings emerge.
1. Data security is top priority
Healthcare organizations are firmly focused on securing and protecting sensitive patient and employee data. More than 60% of respondents say that security and compliance is their No. 1 digital transformation priority over the next one-to-three years. Risk mitigation and cybersecurity are also top of mind, surfacing as the top investment driver for 43% of leaders. As healthcare organizations collect patient information to provide more informed, data-driven care, the emphasis on keeping sensitive information secure will expand.
2. Healthcare organizations prioritize patient metrics when evaluating tech investments
While healthcare organizations are implementing technology to help solve a wide swath of problems, leaders are carefully considering how it affects their patients. Of the top five criteria used to evaluate digital investments, three are patient-centric: impact on long-term health outcomes, patient satisfaction, and readmission. More than one-third of respondents say that improving patient outcomes is their top investment driver, further emphasizing that leading organizations are putting the patient at the center of every decision.
3. Technology investments won’t yield ROI without proper training
When asked why certain investments didn’t yield ROI, leaders overwhelmingly point to issues stemming from poor planning and preparation. Choosing the wrong technology or not having the technical staff to drive implementation can hinder outcomes, but according to respondents, no mistake proves as costly as neglecting to train end users. Leading organizations can avert issues throughout the implementation process by pivoting to focus more on the quality of implementation rather than speed.
4. Cost presents a major hurdle
Healthcare leaders note challenges such as data security, consumer-facing tool development, and core technology interoperability. However, one major issue stood out: the cost of implementing digital tools, technology, and analytics. It presents leaders with a paradox: how can significant industry challenges be resolved when the cost of solving them is their most pressing concern? While the initial investment in technology can be steep, leaders should be asking, “What is the cost of not investing in critical technology advancements?”
5. Intelligent automation cannot be ignored
There’s a consensus that intelligent automation (IA) and artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to change the way healthcare is delivered. A full 100% of respondents identified a comprehensive automation strategy as a need, and 54% indicated they already have a strategy in place. As regulation looms and the healthcare industry gains a better understanding of how to safely integrate IA into patient care, healthcare leaders are prioritizing nonclinical use cases, including supply chain optimization and clinical denials and appeals processing.
How healthcare organizations utilize digital tools, technology, and analytics will vary, but certain throughlines persist: security, consumer needs, training, cost to implement, and automation will all influence both investment and execution. Balancing these factors with a clear strategy can position organizations for growth and elevate how they provide care.