By Justin Gernot, Vice President, Healthbox
In the midst of this global pandemic, many health system leaders are struggling to keep their heads above water but know that the challenges they faced prior to the pandemic have not gone away; if anything, they have intensified. This pandemic is forcing digital transformation with an urgency and speed considered unimaginable just a few weeks ago.
This week, HIMSS introduced the Digital Health Indicator (DHI), and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The DHI measures a health system’s progress toward becoming a digital health ecosystem (see graphic below and more here). The four dimensions of the DHI are Interoperability, Person-Enabled Health, Predictive Analytics, and Workforce & Governance. Scores in each dimension combine for a possible total of 400, all designed under the philosophy that digital transformation is a journey where even the world’s most advanced health systems still have plenty of room to improve. The first step in this journey is a measurement of current digital capability within the health system so that it can begin to chart a path for the future (or reconsider the path they’re on). After reviewing similar efforts from other organizations to measure a health system’s digital capabilities, it’s clear that no other assessment is capable of providing the comprehensive, objective, and evidence-based approach of the HIMSS DHI. After a year of research, development and testing, we’re excited to see providers and patients benefit from an important set of measurements and recommendations arriving at a most critical time.
The Digital Health Indicator measures progress toward a digital health ecosystem—one that connects clinicians and provider teams with people, enabling them to manage their health and wellness using digital tools in a secure and private environment whenever and wherever care is needed. Operational and care delivery processes are outcomes-driven, informed by data and real-world evidence to achieve exceptional quality, safety, and performance that is sustainable.
The toughest parts of digital transformation, particularly at the accelerated pace that’s become the expectation, are aligning the people, mobilizing the data and evidence needed to inform strategy options, then making decisions with measurable outcomes to track progress. Establishing the definitions, importance, and priority of each component will be critical. In the DHI for example, Interoperability goes beyond the sharing of data across organizations and includes foundational, organizational, semantic, and structural components. Predictive Analytics includes capabilities to manage individual patients as well as the financial and operational health of the overall organization. Establishing this common language for leaders across the organization is a critical first step to defining the plan for digital transformation.
Creating a set of priorities that will drive enterprise strategy is next. Historically, these priorities were informed by enterprise initiatives, competitive intelligence, market conditions, existing technologies, budgets, and organizational history. Now, with a need to move more quickly and with greater efficiency than ever before, the DHI brings an objective, evidence-based, comprehensive framework that resonates with leaders across the organization. Comparisons to similar organizations can offer relevant market context, but the real value lies in having this complete view of the key dimensions in a digital health organization and the outcomes that can be achieved. Health systems’ capacity, performance, and sustainability are critical factors to understand and address as the current pandemic unfolds and the world heads into the post-COVID-19 future.
Finally, and most critically, the DHI was designed to help deliver outcomes. You don’t score points for having applications, you have to leverage key technologies and processes to transform models of care to keep people well and drive outcomes for patients, caregivers, and the organization. Regardless of payment models or which state or country you’re in, outcomes are what matter. If your organization is aggressively building capabilities to exchange and use data from everywhere, delivering an industry-leading digital experience for patients and caregivers informed by predictive and proactive analytics, all while addressing the significant and growing challenges with your workforce and governance, then you’re making your way toward delivering health in a robust digital-enabled ecosystem.