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Survey: Hospital CEOs See Digital Innovation as Critical, But Significant Roadblocks Remain

September 21, 2017
by Heather Landi
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More than 75 percent of C-level executive healthcare leaders believe that digital innovation is important to an organization’s long-term strategy, but more than half acknowledge that they are holding off on innovation due to lack of capital and fear of creating unintended operational burdens.

Those were among the findings of a survey on the state of digital innovation within hospitals and health systems conducted by the American Hospital Association (AHA) and AVIA, a Chicago-based consulting firm that helps hospitals focus on innovation. The primary survey goal was to understand the current state of digital innovation priorities, activities, and barriers across a wide range of provider organizations.

Primarily, the responses reveal a contrast between digital innovation aspirations and on-the-ground results. According to hospital and health system CEOs who responded the survey, several factors can significantly accelerate digital innovation, including providing sufficient IT resources.

The survey yielded 317 responses from 44 CEOs and 273 other innovation leaders within hospitals and health systems. The survey reflects responses from a range of healthcare providers, representing 48 states, with 86 percent respondents from urban areas and 14 percent from rural areas. Sixteen percent of respondents are academic medical centers; 39 percent are hospitals with under 200 beds, 31 percent between 200 and 399 beds and 30 percent more than 400 beds.

“Hospital and health system CEOs and leaders believe that the effective use of digital solutions is critical to future success. But substantial barriers to leveraging digital technologies remain, including resources, funding, and operational capacity,” the report authors wrote. What’s more, the report authors note that provider organizations that have accelerated the digital innovation process have removed barriers and developed a clear path from identifying a need to launching a pilot to scaling a solution.

“These leaders also report an intense desire to improve collaboration,” the report authors wrote, citing one respondents who said, “we need to share and learn from one another as quickly as we can when an innovative solution has been successful.”

Looking at the business imperative, three out of four hospital and health system CEOs and innovation leaders said digital innovation is important because it has strong ties to long-term strategy and competitive differentiation. More than 75 percent of hospital CEOs and innovation leaders believe that innovation must include partnering with other innovative organizations.

The top 5 digital innovation priorities for health systems are patient-generated data and customized services, network utilization and management, referral management and in-network retention, social community support, and convenient patient access (including telemedicine), the survey found.

Roadblocks to Digital Innovation Success

Looking at barriers, the survey results indicate that leadership buy-in is no longer a roadblock to digital innovation success, as 75 percent of leaders say that digital innovation is a priority at their health system. However, leaders report capital constraints, plus the financial uncertainty that persists due to pending policy changes. In addition, 60 percent of leaders say that they have no seen a large enough ROI from previous digital solution investments, and 25 percent of leaders claim that their organizations have derived the full value of digital solutions that they have implemented in the past.

Respondents also report that implementation operations are a significant barrier to unlocking the full potential of digital innovation. Less than half of respondents report that they have a standard process to bring an innovation to pilot and only half have a process to then take that pilot to scale.

Respondents also cite insufficient staffing and resources as a high barrier, as well. Specifically, 70 percent of hospital and health system CEOs do not believe that their IT department has sufficient resources to effectively support digital innovation. There can also be process or culture roadblocks. Respondents reported that half of the time a digital innovation is identified to fill a need, it does not receive a pilot project. “Leaders report that on average it takes 23 months from identifying a digital innovation need to scaling a digital solution to meet that need (henceforth known as R2S; recognition to scale). Hospitals and health systems that are driving innovation quickly are able to get from R2S inside of 12 months,” the report authors wrote.

The survey responses indicate that four factors significantly accelerate digital innovation within hospitals and health systems: providing sufficient IT resources, creating a flexible budget cycle, dedicating a funding pool, and reserving a portion of each service line leader’s budget for digital innovation.

When all four factors are present, hospitals and health systems execute innovation 52 percent faster, shortening the time to impact by a full year, according to the report authors. Top performers are nimble and confident, removing operational barriers by dedicating funding and resources to innovation.

Looking more closely at “top performers” compared to other hospitals and health systems when it comes to digital innovation, the survey results indicate that organizations are able to scale 17 percent faster is they have a dedicated pool of funding for digital innovation. What’s more, organizations can scale 17 percent faster if they have a mechanism for funding digital innovation opportunities outside of the budget cycle. And, organizations are 22 percent faster at scaling innovation if the hospitals reserve a portion of each service line leader’s budget for digital innovation. Finally, hospitals can be 23 percent faster at scaling innovation if the hospital believes their IT departments are sufficiently resourced to support digital innovation.

The report authors recommend that hospitals and health systems that are slow to get digital innovations to scale should target two immediate areas to accelerate innovation activities—investing in IT resources and implementing a flexible budget cycle for operations staff. Organizations that identify as fast to fully scale a solution should now prioritize their efforts in areas such as directing digital innovation funds to prepare for risk-based contracts.

“Successfully scaling innovation is a strategic imperative, and these survey results crack the code,” Eric Langshur, CEO and co-founder of AVIA, said. “We now know that top performers share traits that allow them to accelerate innovation 52 percent faster than average organizations, shortening time to impact by a full year. It’s never been more essential or accessible to take action.”

The results of the survey indicate that there is growing consensus among healthcare leaders around the key components of innovation. While the majority of leaders agree on the need to build innovative partnerships and almost half (42 percent) believe in testing and scaling externally-developed digital solutions made by small to medium-sized solution companies. However, their perspectives begin to diverge around clinical research and investment opportunities, with one notable exception—leaders of AMCs. “These leaders unsurprisingly respond with significantly greater interest in clinical research and investment opportunities,” the report authors wrote.

The survey results also indicate areas of importance where hospitals have already invested in digital innovation. Thirty-two percent of healthcare leaders have already implemented a solution in the area of benefits management, 30 percent have implemented a solution in primary care delivery and utilization and 26 percent have made digital investments in convenient patient access, including telemedicine. What’s more, about one-third said they have already made digital investments in operational efficiencies and improvements, and 26 percent have made investments in care transition and post-acute sites of care.

Twenty-nine percent of healthcare leaders are planning to or have already built an innovation center in the next 18 months, and half of AMCs are planning to have already built an internal innovation center. Larger hospitals are particularly interested in this pursuit, as 72 percent of these organizations have an innovation center or plan to build one.

Hospital and health system leaders are looking to apply digital innovation to impact five key outcomes metrics—better of quality of care, improved patient safety, reduced costs, enhanced patient experience and improved physician experience.

 

 

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The Modern Healthcare CIO, CMO, and CTO

December 10, 2018
by Lori Williams, Industry Voice, vice president of fulfillment, Gigster
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Disruption in the healthcare space comes primarily from the expansion of data’s role in the industry, and the healthcare C-suite’s familiarity with that expansion will help drive company and industry success

For the healthcare C-suite executive, the industry has never been more complex—nor has it ever contained so much potential. Emerging technologies mixed with political uncertainty has created an environment where incredible amounts of healthcare data are revolutionizing how patient care is handled, but patients remain uncertain about the future of their own health. With better data and the means to draw insights from it, healthcare CIOs, CMOs and CTOs are in a position to help address patients’ uncertainties and make hospitals and clinics more accessible and effective than ever before.

Here’s a look at how the role of the modern healthcare CIO, CMO and CTO is changing:

The Modern Healthcare CIO
The modern healthcare CIO’s role has evolved to become more innovative. No longer a title reserved strictly for engineers and IT professionals, today’s healthcare CIOs are focused on information science instead of simply setting up network infrastructure or providing back-end support. The trend towards a more data-centric role began as hospitals rolled out electronic health records, equipping individuals with better access to healthcare provider data. Through enterprise data warehousing, CIOs are becoming masters of data management, governance and predictive analytics, and passing along the many benefits of those knowledge bases to patients.

The Modern Healthcare CMO
The confusing healthcare landscape makes the role of a healthcare CMO more necessary than ever before. Thanks to ongoing regulatory changes, uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act, and shifting consumer expectations for on-demand services, healthcare CMOs are responsible for helping patients navigate their way through a complex and opaque industry. As patients continue to assume the role of consumers, carrying out comparison shopping as they would for any other industry, CMOs must be adept in crafting a healthcare provider’s brand and messaging.

At the same time, CMOs must also ensure that healthcare providers offer a modern online experience, ensuring websites are mobile-optimized and social media accounts are generating engagement. This also means CMOs need to help move marketing efforts into the 21st century, transitioning away from direct mail or billboards towards digital marketing and CRM tools. Because if they don’t, there are plenty of med tech startups that will promptly eat into their market share.

The Modern Healthcare CTO
Unlike healthcare CTOs of the past who remained siloed off from the rest of the organization, today’s modern healthcare CTO is fully engaged with healthcare providers and their technology stacks, utilizing new software and hardware to improve daily workflows. The CTO is enabling the transition to patient-oriented self-service operations, enabling patients to carry out administrative tasks like scheduling appointments or refilling prescriptions over the internet. Because medical data is often stored in a variety of different sources, it’s critical for the CTO to be able to keep these systems interoperable with one another. For hospitals riddled with legacy software, CTOs should expect to continue employing middleware solutions to bridge the gap between old and new.

Members of the healthcare industry C-suite have the power to transform lives, and the CIO, CMO and CTO have roles that directly affect a provider’s ability to carry out positive change. With better data from the CTO’s tech stack, the CIO can use better analytics to help providers determine the best solutions for their patients, marketed to consumers by the CMO through modern platforms in clear, easy-to-understand language.

Lori Williams currently serves as Gigster’s vice president of fulfillment. Prior to joining Gigster, Lori was the general manager for Appririo.


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What Does Your Magnum Opus Look Like? A Few Operatic Thoughts

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I was given the privilege and pleasure recently of presenting, for the second year in a row, a lecture on Richard Wagner’s “Ring” cycle, as the leading opera company in my city, a world-class opera house, has been putting on, in yearly succession, the four operas of the “Ring of the Nibelung” cycle by German composer Richard Wagner (1813-1883). Last year, the second opera in the tetratology, “Die Walküre,” was performed; this year, the third opera, “Siegfried.” After the concluding opera, “Götterdämmerung,” is performed, the entire cycle will be presented in festival format, always a major cultural event. I spoke on “Siegfried.”

I’ve been fortunate to have seen six complete “Ring” cycles in live opera houses in different cities, and I can tell you, it’s a life-changing experience, as this four-opera work (16 hours of music altogether), sits at the absolute summit of western art. Richard Wagner was a hideous human being himself, but spent numerous years working on something that changed the course of classical music and redefined opera.

What’s more, from the summer of 1848, when Wagner wrote a first sketch of the libretti, or texts, of the operas, until their true compositional completion in 1871, more than 23 years were to pass; and it would be another five years before the tetralogy was fully presented, in a purpose-built new opera house in the Bavarian town of Bayreuth. It was a herculean feat to create the entire text of these four long operas, and compose 16 hours of music that would completely redefine the concept of opera. Indeed, when the crowned heads of Europe, the great living composers, and the 19th-century European intelligentsia and glitterati, gathered at the new Festspielhaus in Bayreuth in 1876, many were so overwhelmed by what they saw and heard, that they were rendered speechless. Even now, 142 years later, first time Ring-goers are overwhelmed by the breadth and sweep, the musical and dramatic audacity, and uniqueness of the “Ring” operas, with their story of gods, giants, dwarves, flying Valkyries, Rhinemaidens, one huge dragon, humans, gold mined from a river, magic swords and spears, and of course, a gold ring whose possessor can control the world and its fate.

Even just looking at the third opera, “Siegfried,” Wagner struggled mightily. For one thing, being essentially a grifter and a cad, Wagner borrowed/took money from everyone who would lend/give it, and often had affairs with the wives of the patrons bankrolling his compositional work, leaving his life in constant chaos, as he fled from one city to the next. One such wife, Mathilde Wesendonck, inspired the opera “Tristan und Isolde,” groundbreaking operas that Wagner wrote during a 12-year hiatus in his composition of “Siegfried.” And “Tristan” itself changed the entirety of classical music, its tonality-challenging chromaticism.

Well, no one is expecting anyone to match the unique creativity of Wagner’s “Ring” cycle. But the leaders of U.S. patient care organizations are doing a lot of important things these days, including using formal continuous improvement methodologies to rework core patient care delivery processes in order to transition into value-based healthcare. What’s more, as our Special Report on Leadership outlines, the entire role of the CIO is being rethought now, as the demands for leadership and strategic capabilities are catapulting that role forward; and patient care organizations are beginning to make real headway in advancing equality for women and people of color among the ranks of healthcare IT leaders and managers.

So while no one is expecting anyone to create an operatic tetralogy that will change the face of music, there are plenty of heroic endeavors open to anyone willing to envision the healthcare system of the future. The opportunities are as limitless as the imagination.

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Using Performance Management to Scale

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Performance management is so much more than just a year-end performance review
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Performance management and goal setting have always been part of my DNA. It’s like a compass that tells us we are steering the ship in the right direction or gives us a chance to course correct if we wander off track. It’s hard for any organization to determine how they are doing unless there are clear measurable objectives. CIOs and their leaders need monthly, quarterly and annual goals to measure how you and your team are doing against the plan. I also firmly believe they should be S.M.A.R.T. goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based.

Once the goals have been established, you need a written plan. I like three-year rolling plans so you can look into the future and describe your vision of what your organization will look like 36 months out. Then you can work back to the second year, and eventually the first year, to give you the framework for what you need to accomplish in the next 12 months. I suggest you do it with your managers. It makes them accountable to the organization since they are involved in the formation of the plan.

Your plan must be a living document to be used frequently during team meetings throughout the year to see how you are performing as a team and individually. This is not a process you invest in to review at year-end to see how you performed. By then it’s too late. It must be reviewed on a consistent basis to make sure everyone is on track. Performance management is so much more than just a year-end performance review. If there are individuals who are not performing against the plan, you can use the plan as a tool to performance manage them to re-engage as an important member of the team. 

I just returned from the Scale-up Conference in Denver and learned so much about taking goal setting and performance management to a whole new level by adopting the "Rockefeller Habits," as written by Verne Harnish. After reading the book, everything changed for me in the way we will be doing our planning, goal setting and performance management forever. It’s so brilliant and easy to understand. Here they are:

Rockefeller Habit #1: The executive team is healthy and aligned

Rockefeller Habit #2: Everyone is aligned with the #1 thing that needs to be accomplished this quarter to move the organization forward

Rockefeller Habit #3: Communication rhythm is established and information moves through the organization accurately and quickly

Rockefeller Habit #4: Every facet of the organization has a person assigned with accountability for ensuring goals are met

Rockefeller Habit #5: Ongoing employee input is collected to identify obstacles and opportunities

Rockefeller Habit #6: Reporting and analysis of customer feedback data is as frequent and accurate as financial data

Rockefeller Habit #7: Core values and purpose are “alive” in the organization

Rockefeller Habit #8: Employees can articulate the key components of the company’s strategy accurately

Rockefeller Habit #9: All employees can answer quantitatively whether they had a good day or week

Rockefeller Habit #10: The company’s plans and performance are visible to everyone

Accountability is no longer hard to measure since the entire plan is visible to everyone throughout the organization. Each part of your team should have key people accountable for every functional part of your organization. No more guessing is required. I’ve read countless books about leadership, performance management and goal setting, as I’ve been an avid student on the subject for decades.

These ten habits, once adopted and measured regularly, can change any organization that wants to grow and scale, and keep everyone accountable along the way.

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