Digital capabilities are increasingly essential for health care organizations looking to deliver best-in-class patient experiences, improve outcomes and reduce cost of care. While health care organizations have been investing in digital capabilities for a while, the EY-Parthenon Digital Investment Index (DII) illustrates the significant gap between historical activity and what market participants feel is truly required to enable transformation across their organizations and the broader value chain.
In fact, more than 70% of the health care executives surveyed say they lack an agile operating model, hindering the potential benefits of partnerships and digital M&A. And 62% say they do not have a clearly defined digital strategy.
Several leading practices can help health care organizations shape their digital agendas to better promote their long-term strategic initiatives. These include addressing talent gaps, upscaling the use of data analytics tools and instituting the concerted measurement of return on digital investment (RODI).
Follow the health care leaders to enhance digital capabilities
The EY-Parthenon Digital Investment Index survey, which included more than 40 C-suite payer and provider executives from a broader cohort of roughly 1,000 executives across a wide range of industries, highlights some characteristics of leading companies. Leaders appear to be those who:
- Achieved at least 5% return on their digital investments in 2019
- Self-identify as being among industry leaders when it comes to the success of digital initiatives
Two-thirds of leading health care organizations not only have a clearly defined digital strategy, but they also consider changes needed to their organization’s culture and processes when mapping digital strategies — this compares favorably with half of the leading companies in all industries. This broader scope of consideration (internal and external) reflects the continuous need to align payers, providers and patients to achieve long-term success. Only about a third of the non-leading health care organizations have such a set strategy and focus.
Lack of skills and talent were identified by 64% of all health care executives as the reason their digital programs are stalling. Leading companies were more likely to take steps to address these issues than non-leading companies, through investment in retraining programs (67% vs. 33%) and outsourcing certain functions (50% vs. 31%).
Health care leaders also tend to take more decisive action to build enterprise resilience (e.g., shifting focus to immediate cash return initiatives and accelerating the creation of new digital products, services and business models) than non-leaders. Leaders expect to increase their operating expenditures on digital activity to about 13% in 2021 from 7% in 2019.
Digital investment programs within leading health care organizations include:
- Intermountain Healthcare and Trinity Health’s growth investments in Jvion, an artificial intelligence (AI)-driven prescriptive clinical analytics platform focused on preventing avoidable patient harm. Jvion’s AI identifies at-risk patients and recommends specific provider interventions by marrying clinical, socioeconomic and behavioral data with clinically validated best practices.
- Mount Sinai Health Partners, the primary care network of the eponymous health system, recently teaming with Babylon Health to roll out an app providing AI-powered diagnosis and video appointments. The app’s COVID-19 Care Assistant is being deployed to ease patient anxiety and take the pressure off of New York emergency rooms and other providers.
- ATI Physical Therapy’s recent launch of CONNECT, a virtual offering that combines digital screening/musculoskeletal evaluations with expert advice, educational content and video messaging. ATI is now able to maintain continuity of care via online PT following an initial in-person screening and onboarding session.
- Humana’s strategic partnership with DispatchHealth to provide its Medicare Advantage members with access to an advanced level of care in the home. DispatchHealth enables the coordination and delivery of clinical care along with a suite of other services that address social determinants of health (e.g., pharmacy, meal delivery). This model affords patients the ability to be treated in the comfort of their homes and avoids unnecessary hospital visits.