Opportunity is building for healthcare organizations to leverage digital tools, technology and analytics to find new innovations and drive breakthrough improvements in their business and clinical operations.
Leaders surveyed in Huron research signal their key organizational priorities in the year ahead will include optimizing business operations, driving growth, and expanding and enhancing care, all of which will be enabled by data and technology. However, while nearly all organizations report having a digital, technology and analytics strategy, Huron's research finds more than 50% have not begun executing those plans.
Acknowledging the urgency to close the gap between strategy and execution, healthcare leaders identify where they plan to focus their technology investments and leverage their current tools to advance organizational goals.
Improving Business Operations With Technology-Led Innovation
Huron's research finds that cost containment, growth and workforce optimization are among leaders' most important priorities in the next 12 months — all of which are aimed at creating breakthrough levels of improvement and long-term financial health.
To make progress on these initiatives, leaders indicate they'll focus on the following areas:
- 66% of leaders say that enterprise resource planning (ERP) investments will underpin efforts to modernize supply chain, and more than half will look to electronic health record (EHR) optimization to increase revenue cycle and clinical functionality.
- 60% of leaders foresee robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) driving cost reductions, followed closely by revenue management, clinical documentation improvement (CDI) and interoperability initiatives.
- 60% of leaders report that workforce optimization efforts will focus on automation to keep pace with the rapid expansion of telehealth and the growing virtual workforce.
Integrating these tools strategically across the enterprise, instead of siloed as point solutions, will be crucial to fully optimizing workflows and driving operational agility.
Leveraging Technology for Growth
Leaders point to technology as a key enabler to accelerate growth measures and place the highest importance on technology to support virtual care, data-driven decision making and staffing strategies. In Huron's research, 49% of leaders identify technology-enabled virtual care as a key driver of growth in the next 12 months and an avenue to improve care access and increase patient volume.
While health systems are positioned to leverage telehealth platforms for geographic and service line expansion, they will have to determine how to permanently integrate virtual services. Business intelligence gleaned from enterprise-level data will be critical to supporting decisions about new care delivery and business models, service line optimization, the expansion of virtual services and an organization's overall portfolio mix.
Embracing Data and Digital Tools to Re-Imagine Care
Evolving care delivery models and disruption to consumer volume are pushing leaders to deepen their focus on care transformation. Leaders surveyed named improved care access as their No. 1 priority in the next 12 months.
Investments in customer relationship management (CRM) platforms prove critical as more than half of organizations in Huron's research state that they will leverage the technology to improve care access and the clinician and consumer experience. CRM will also allow organizations to expand their digital capabilities, attracting new patients and improving interactions throughout the consumer journey. While self-service tools and patient portals have improved, patients continue to want more functionality to empower their health journeys, including access to patient data.
A data-driven understanding of consumers is paramount to transforming care. Leaders should be looking to leverage population insights and predictive analytics to understand risk factors and inform overall care strategies as well as individual patient interventions to improve outcomes.
While some organizations are already leveraging their EHRs to curtail readmissions and reduce the prevalence of hospital-acquired conditions, more focus is needed on resolving interoperability issues and enabling seamless data sharing between an organization's website, EHR, portal and CRM platform.
As major shifts in care delivery continue, and economic and market pressures intensify, now is the time for leaders to determine how to weave together their various tools and platforms to achieve breakthrough performance in cost, growth and care delivery. Organizations that can build internal alignment quickly and deepen their ability to execute will have a competitive advantage.
View Huron's full market research to learn more about how leaders are embracing technology, digital tools and analytics to prepare for the future.