This Week Health
August 3, 2023

Digital Transformation: Catalyzing Change in Healthcare

As digital transformation continues to reshape industries across the globe, its impact on healthcare is profound and multifaceted. In an insightful conversation with Jeff Sturman, the CIO of Memorial Healthcare System in Florida, we delved into this transformative power, the opportunities it brings, and the challenges health systems face.

The Digital Black Hole: A Historical Perspective

Jeff Sturman This Week in Health IT

Jeff Sturman, Memorial Healthcare System

There was a time when IT in healthcare was perceived as a black hole—an area of mystery, challenge, and, often, immense cost. Jeff Sturman, however, begs to differ. He believes digital transformation is not just about technology today—it's a strategic focus. "We really have to shift the way we think about IT," he observes. This new view is helping create immense value in patient care, operational efficiency, and even new revenue streams. One area where digital transformation pays dividends is opening new revenue streams such as remote patient monitoring. The ability to monitor patients remotely has significantly reduced hospital readmissions and improved outcomes, especially in a value-based care context.

Efficient Resource Utilization through Digital Transformation

Sturman brings an interesting perspective on how digital transformation can contribute to the optimal utilization of high-cost equipment like MRIs, CAT scans, and robots. He points out, "When we start using data in an analytical way, we could find ways to optimize the utilization of these high-cost equipment pieces." Indeed, effective data analysis can aid in making better decisions, reducing waste, and improving care delivery.

Enhancing Patient Care with AI

The role of AI in digital transformation cannot be overstated. "Let's bring AI into the consumer experience," Sturman suggests. Artificial Intelligence can enhance clinical guidance and prediction with its ability to identify secondary diagnoses, such as lung nodules, in imaging studies. These benefits extend beyond just diagnostic support, improving patient interactions and experiences.

Consumerism and Process Improvement in Digital Transformation

The focus on consumerism is not new in healthcare but gains new dimensions with digital transformation. Omnichannel communication strategies are becoming increasingly important. "They can chat with us, they can text with us, they can email, they can call us," says Sturman, emphasizing the need for diverse communication modes to cater to different patient preferences.

Challenges in Digital Transformation

Despite the numerous benefits, digital transformation does not come without its challenges. Sturman points to pushback against automation and AI, indicating the importance of incremental implementation rather than trying to "boil the ocean." He warns against doing too many things simultaneously, highlighting the need to focus on targeted areas for initial wins.

Case Study: Digital Transformation in Practice

Perhaps the most illustrative example of this philosophy in action is Memorial's recent implementation of an automated appointment cancellation, rescheduling, and confirmation system. "We just went live. With the ability to cancel, reschedule, and confirm your appointment in an automated way," Sturman shared. While this might seem commonplace in other industries, it's a substantial step forward in healthcare, signaling the incremental but impactful progress digital transformation can bring.

Conclusion

Digital transformation, while not a panacea, holds immense promise for healthcare. The conversation with Jeff Sturman underscores the need for strategic focus, incremental implementation, and an unwavering commitment to improving patient care. Sturman says, "It's strategic and process improvement at its best." With leaders like him at the helm, the digital transformation journey in healthcare continues to evolve, promising a future where technology and healthcare seamlessly intertwine to offer the best patient experience.

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