The current state of healthcare digital transformation

What is digital transformation? How is it different in healthcare? How are the industry’s leaders implementing their digital strategies? Are we adequately leveraging digital health innovation?

Let’s start with Digital Maturity

The DigiM Digital Maturity Model has been designed by Damo Consulting to help assess the digital transformation maturity of a health system. Healthcare enterprises can use this survey to benchmark themselves against their peers in the industry. Technology firms can use the survey to target their offerings based on the individual attributes of the health systems that fall in one of the models.

Many health systems that were moving along at a leisurely pace prior to the pandemic found themselves making overnight choices for launching video consult capabilities, along with related online access tools such as self-triaging, scheduling, and online payments. Health systems that had chosen to default to their EHR systems as their primary digital health platform had to rethink their platform choices in the light of a long-term shift to virtual care models to design seamless online patient experiences.

The changing landscape has also forced healthcare enterprises to review their options when it comes to the organizational models required to drive healthcare digital transformation in the post-COVID-19 era. What may have been primarily an IT-enabled capability is now a strategic priority that requires a deep appreciation of consumer experience journeys, cross-functional collaboration to enable seamless experiences, and technology expertise to implement digital engagement priorities.

An interesting trend is a small number of health systems that are setting up healthcare digital transformation offices (DTO) to drive enterprise-wide digital transformation initiatives. A DTO is distinct from a Chief Digital Officer role; in that it is a stand-alone function tasked with actively enabling healthcare digital transformation initiatives across the enterprise.

Whether you are starting out now or are further along in the digital transformation journey, it is important to understand your current level of digital maturity relative to your marketplace. Our DigiM maturity model provides you with a framework that is specifically developed for healthcare providers. Take this self-assessment to find out where you stand. Continue your journey below:

Assessing Digital Maturity: The DigiMTM Digital Maturity Model for Health Systems

A white paper on Damo Consulting’s DigiMTM model is a framework that describes the different stages of digital maturity in the specific context of health systems.

Healthcare Digital Transformation: How Consumerism, Technology, And Pandemic Are Accelerating the Future

Damo Consulting CEO Paddy Padmanabhan’s latest book Healthcare Digital Transformation (Taylor and Francis, August 2020; co-authored with Ed Marx), is an in-depth exploration of the digital health landscape in a post-pandemic era. Based on our extensive consulting experience with leading health systems, detailed research, and over 150 interviews, the book identifies best practices and serves as a handbook for digital transformation leaders in healthcare and technology.

Healthcare is experiencing a digital transformation that has been decades in the making. Consumers are demanding convenience. Non-traditional players and “digital first” healthcare providers are leveraging AI, machine learning, and superior user experience design to disrupt incumbents.

To successfully navigate digital transformation, healthcare requires forward-thinking strategic leaders who are willing to take charge, embrace technology-led innovation, and willing to take risks to ensure success in a digital future . Healthcare providers must be committed to developing and executing digital strategies that transform their enterprises while continuing to serve patient needs.

1. What is digital transformation in healthcare?

Digital transformation in healthcare, though a reality, does not have any clear definitions. Damo Consulting’s ongoing research of the digital initiatives in the top health systems highlights a set of common themes playing out in the top tier of health systems today – Telehealth and digital front doors are top priorities among top health systems.

Our research team recently conducted a focus group discussion with 20 CIOs and technology leaders from mid-tier health systems and all CHIME members, to find out what is happening with their digital transformation journeys. We found that Tier 2 health systems tend to have certain unique challenges relative to larger integrated health systems. Our focus group discussion highlighted the following key factors:

✓ EHR systems are the primary platforms for digital health programs
✓ Adoption rates for telehealth models are tied to reimbursements
✓ Telehealth continues to rise. However, virtual visits dropping off as patients start to return to hospitals
✓ A compelling vision and strategy for the healthcare market

2. Trends in healthcare digital transformation

  • COVID-19 has accelerated the timelines for digital transformation
  • Health systems must take a holistic approach to telehealth and digital transformation
  • Digital leaders must develop and implement digital roadmaps in line with strategic priorities for the enterprise
  • CIO’s must transform IT to support digital transformation
  • Technology decisions must deliver enterprise-level impact instead of departmental or functional priorities

3. Five best practices in healthcare digital transformation

  • Define digital engagement opportunities at every major touchpoint across the patient journey
  • Involve cross-functional stakeholders to identify additional high-priority opportunities and requirements and prioritize digital initiatives accordingly
  • Identify existing digital capabilities in your EHR as the baseline. However, look to other best-in-class digital health tools to build a superior patient experience
  • Select digital health and telehealth technology partners whose products can scale and easily integrate with the existing EMR system using industry-standard data exchange interfaces
  • Work closely with IT to secure infrastructure support and ensure compliance with IT architecture and data security/privacy requirements

4. What successful technology firms do right

  • Strong account management: Strategic partnerships rely on strong account leadership from vendor organizations, specifically the account executive.
  • Executive sponsorship: a senior executive within the vendor organization and who has financial authority, access to resources, and is individually invested in the success of the relationship
  • Solution mindset: The best partnerships are those where the AEs know the client’s business so well that they proactively bring new ideas and solutions.
  • Flexibility in pricing and terms: The most successful vendors are flexible and creative with commercial aspects of the engagement and are very effective at advocating on behalf of clients internally within their organizations to help structure win-win deals
  • Responsiveness and follow-through: Vendors with a strong customer service mindset will be very attentive and responsive to questions, requirements, and concerns. They are also very good at managing expectations and following through on commitments.

Now that you know everything about digital transformation and what your peers are doing

5. How should healthcare providers approach digital transformation?

Based on our work with leading health systems across the U.S, we have identified several best practices in launching and driving digital transformation initiatives.

  • Develop a digital roadmap
  • Evaluate your technology architecture choices
  • Develop a technology partner strategy
  • Build an engaged community of cross-functional stakeholders to drive transformation initiatives
  • Start with the end in mind: Successful digital programs define the future state before developing a roadmap and identifying technology solutions.
  • Prioritize high-impact digital engagement opportunities in patient journeys: At a health system we worked with, Damo Consulting identified high-priority initiatives through a three-pronged approach. The resulting roadmap identified over 35 high priority initiatives to be implemented over two phases.
  • Design for best-in-class experiences, implement in a phased manner: An organization’s ability to implement multiple initiatives at one time is limited, as is the ability to set aside the time and resources to design and implement best-in-class experiences in a holistic approach carefully. Hence, it becomes critical to identify which ones are most important to your organization in the near-term vs. longer-term.
  • Look for savings opportunities through scope refinement and scale economies: It can be tempting to pursue digital initiatives that are comprehensive in scope with an expectation of economies of scale and substantial benefits in return. The risks and resource requirements of this approach may sometimes outweigh the benefits.
  • Look for synergies, be aware of the dependencies
  • Address near term enterprise needs without losing sight of a longer-term strategy
  • Leverage existing technology partnerships where possible, however, look for best-in-class solutions where necessary
  • Recognize changes in market needs and reprioritize as necessary
  • Track the regulatory landscape: Keeping track of the regulatory measures and mapping them to the healthcare digital transformation journey can help organizations get the required scores and incentives on specific quality measures. The MIPS MACRA performance categories have a weightage of 15% for Improvement activities, which can be closely tied to the healthcare organization’s digital initiatives.

6. Healthcare leaders and their stories of digital transformation in healthcare

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