South Florida Hospital News
Monday August 19, 2019
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July 2019 - Volume 16 - Issue 1

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In Digital Transformation Journey, Interoperability Is Healthcare’s Culprit

Healthcare businesses can ignore the forces of disruption—but at their own peril. 

The healthcare industry has reached a digital precipice where ignoring such forces is no longer an option—especially in the middle market, where entities face unique challenges compared to their larger counterparts, including growing competition from all sides. 
According to BDO’s inaugural Middle Market Digital TransformationSurvey, compared to their counterparts in financial services, natural resources and retail, mid-market healthcare companies place the greatest emphasis on developing a digital transformation strategy. More than half (53 percent) cite it as a top digital priority, followed by optimizing business efficiencies and operations across the supply chain (16 percent) and investing in innovative digital capabilities for anticipated business needs (15 percent) to round out the top three.
 
Here are the top two healthcare-specific highlights from the Middle Market Digital Transformation Survey:
 
1. Cyberattacks and data privacy breaches are getting in the way of digital transformation: In fact, 43 percent of healthcare executives said cyberattacks or privacy breaches were the top threat to digital transformation—the most of any industry. We think the two go hand in hand. Healthcare organizations have a target on their back because of all the highly valuable personally identifiable consumer information they possess. They are also, generally speaking, further behind in digitizing analog information and manual processes, and their outdated IT infrastructure wasn’t built with security in mind. Because of that, they face greater urgency in digital initiatives like replacing or upgrading legacy IT systems. If they don’t, their cyber defenses are left vulnerable and they’ll have a higher price to pay.

BDO’s Quick Take: Digital transformation plays a critical role in healthcare organizations’ cybersecurity strategy. To sustainably innovate patient care, healthcare organizations must be able to safely store and analyze patient data—the most valuable resource to the consumer, the business of health and, we believe, the security of a nation. At the same time, with the infiltration of technology into healthcare, consumers expect care to be available at their fingertips, personalized to their individual needs and preferences. They want digital health solutions. If healthcare organizations are to keep up with these demands, not only do they need to digitize their core business processes, they need to reimagine the business of health altogether. We imagine a future where doctors will be able to tailor therapies to patients’ DNA and customize drug regimens, aided by cognitive diagnostic solutions, heralding a new era of precision medicine. Both digital transformation and cybersecurity are key.
2. Interoperability is still a barrier: In fact, for mid-market healthcare organizations, it’s the biggest obstacle to successfully implementing a new digital initiative, cited by 60 percent. Lack of skills or insufficient training (47 percent) and underinvestment (41 percent) follow. The first barrier is one of technology and the latter two of people, but the challenges are interconnected. Interoperability initiatives are typically focused on process standardization and data integration. The goal is to make sure data is available, accessible and secure throughout the doctor-to-patient lifecycle, thereby streamlining information sharing and enhancing transparency.

BDO’s Quick Take: Adopting new standards and embracing information sharing comes down to people. We’re talking about fundamentally changing the way people work. The type of behavioral change needed to make these goals a reality starts with tone at the top. The senior-most leaders of the organization not only need to be bought into digital transformation, but also need to convincingly evangelize the vision. You need your employees to understand why they need to leave the status quo behind, believe in the strategy and engage in the process. Most importantly, they need to understand what’s expected of them. While an injection of new talent can help improve your overall digital competency, you will also need to provide current employees, particularly your medical staff, with the resources, training and development they need to be effective as their roles evolve.
 
For some new entrants to the healthcare industry —especially those born out of the tech-enabled era—digital transformation is in their DNA. The adaption to, and adoption of, emerging technologies to further business goals comes instinctively to them. For most, however, digital transformation requires a lot more foresight, consideration and planning—especially when the integration of innovative technologies leaves the organization vulnerable to new and burgeoning cyber and privacy threats.

See how your organization’s transformation readiness compares to that of other entities: https://www.bdo.com/insights/industries/healthcare/infographic-benchmarking-digital-transformation

For more information, contact:
 
Patrick Pilch
National Leader, Healthcare Advisory
212‑885‑8006
 
Stephanie Giammarco
National Leader, Technology & Business Transformation
212-885-7439
sgiammarco@bdo.com
 
Malcolm Cohron
National Leader, Digital Transformation Services
404-979-7109
ccohron@bdo.com
 
Alfredo Cepero, Managing Partner
305-420-8006/ acepero@bdo.com
 
Angelo Pirozzi, Partner
646-520-2870 / apirozzi@bdo.com
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