Online tool helps health systems gauge their digital health readiness

Healthcare leaders trying to determine where their efforts fall on an industrywide digital health continuum have an online tool to aid assessments. Completing the self-administered assessment helps organizations understand what is driving or slowing their progress toward a fully modernized facility or health system.

The online assessment tool was created as part of a joint research study conducted by HIMSS Media and global healthcare technology provider Unisys. Some 220 healthcare IT decision-makers and influencers at U.S. hospitals and health systems used the assessment tool earlier this year to measure their perceived progress against 10 key digital health markers.

For each of these digital health markers, assessment-takers rate their organization’s effectiveness at leveraging digital and mobile technologies to improve an aspect of the patient care experience, explained Janet King, senior director of market insights for HIMSS Media, who played a leading role in developing the tool.

Together, these ratings, done on a seven-point scale, form the basis for a composite Digital Health Readiness score that shows an organization how its progress collectively compares to its peers. The score also provides participants with insight into how they are advancing in each of 10 identified areas of digital health.

Those markers include

  • both provider and patient access to complete medical records;
  • chronic health-conditions monitoring and management;
  • care coordination and communication;
  • “anywhere, any device” access for care teams;
  • patient and physician/care-team communications;
  • real-time case prioritization/triage;
  • patient self-service capabilities;
  • virtual access to care teams and specialists; and
  • patient visibility into care activities.

A recent Gartner survey of organizations across 15 industries — including healthcare — placed digital transformation at the top of CIO agendas, regardless of the vertical.  A major driver: raising their digital readiness to improve consumer engagement.

“The ability to support greater scale is being invested in and developed in three key areas: volume, scope, and agility. All aim at encouraging consumers to interact with the organization,” said Andy Rowsell-Jones,  vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, in a published report.  He later added: “In general, the greater the variety of interactions that are available via digital channels, the more engaged a consumer becomes and the lower the costs to serve them are.”

Until this assessment tool came along, King said, there weren’t many convenient instruments on the market to help healthcare organizations gauge their digital readiness.

“This makes managing competing priorities while promoting the best digital adoption and deployment-delivery practices quite difficult,” King said. “It can be hard to quantify the ROI, to understand how your efforts compare to others — things that can be helpful in building a business case and gaining internal support for digital health investments.”

While not a true framework, the Digital Health Readiness Assessment from Unisys is a helpful aid for hospitals and health systems. Taking the assessment can help decision-makers identify where to focus their time and other resources to advance their digital health capabilities most effectively.

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