Digital Transformation Starts with Data

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By Peyman Zand | Oct 1, 2021

3 minute read Blog| IT Advisory

Healthcare systems are inundated with data coming from a variety of sources – legacy systems, new applications, third-party clinical applications bolted on from acquisitions and more. A solid strategy for data architecture and data analytics for clinical decision support and patient engagement can be a differentiator for health systems – and the key to true digital transformation. Before you invest in cloud technology or a data lake to store massive amounts of data, first develop a sound strategy for data architecture which will in turn build a foundation for delivering data analytics.

Distraction hampers digital transformation

One of the barriers to digital transformation are your legacy systems -- but not in the way you may suspect. Legacy systems are an impediment to digital transformation because they are a distraction. Hospital systems get mired down in maintaining legacy systems to the point that they are unable to focus strategically on digital transformation. If the energy and effort of your technology leaders and IT team are consumed with maintaining technology, your team will be spread too thin to keep pace with the expectations of physicians and patients.

Digital transformation happens one strategic step at a time: data quality, data storage (likely through migration to cloud technology) and intentional focus and investment in modernizing systems. Digital transformation is a culture change, too, which is why collaborating with various stakeholders, enlisting champions for data quality, and finding experienced partners to help you stay focused on improving the physician and patient experience for your health system.

Data quality delivers analytics that matter

Today, physicians and patients are becoming more tech savvy and are beginning to expect data analytics that are easily accessible – at their fingertips, on-the-go, 24x7. As retail giants like Amazon and Walmart enter the healthcare market, they understand consumer behavior and consumer technology and how to make things easy.

To keep pace, healthcare organizations need strategies and plans in place that provide consumer-like experiences and technology for physicians and patients. Pushing toward digital transformation in healthcare is a herculean task, but the first step in this journey begins with good data.

What is your strategy to ensure your health system has good data? Who are your stewards for data quality? While data steward roles are found within IT and HIM, healthcare CIOs must think in broad terms and involve clinical roles and others in your organization who have the ability to improve data quality. This cross disciplinary team will be important to the integrity of your data quality and data architecture, because clean data coupled with the right technology and tools will help you deliver the data analytics you need to improve physician and patient experience.

Data interoperability paves the way for value-based care

Having data and data analytics is a first step, but the next goal needs to focus on the interoperability of healthcare data. A few years ago, the federal government began encouraging improved interoperability, transparency in service and cost of service, while at the same time protecting both the patients and provider organizations from unnecessary sharing of critical and private information. Now health systems are beginning to evaluate a procedure cost to the patient, quality of care measures for providers, ranking outcomes, and other information that is of interest to patients. Those who are leading efforts for greater interoperability and embracing these changes will ultimately facilitate the shift to value-based care. Hear more insights about optimizing data for the future.

Agility and collaboration are operational must-haves for innovation

Collaboration is fuel for innovation. Working closely with medical and administrative teams, business, and clinical stakeholders to form cross disciplinary teams and a framework for collaboration will help break down silos and could prevent costly oversights and assumptions. Strong partnerships with other healthcare providers and vendor partners are an absolute must to accelerate innovation.

Perhaps you have decided to make the significant investment in cloud technology. What is your strategy for existing data center equipment and information? Evaluating your current data needs and projecting what you will need for the future is challenging. Prior to the pandemic, migration plans for large technology changes like cloud migration could have taken five to seven years. However, the pandemic has established a pace and rate of change where health systems must accelerate cloud migration plans to span one or two years at most. Migrating to the cloud will change the dynamic of your organization’s agility, much like the way your organization ramped up quickly for telehealth during the pandemic. The more agile your team can become, the better.

About the Author:
Peyman Zand

Vice President, Advisory Services, CereCore

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