More than 90,000 new digital health solutions entered the market in 2020,1 and annual growth is expected to increase 27% over the next 8 years.2 For health systems, this creates an unprecedented opportunity to leverage digital solutions, especially considering: expanded reimbursement opportunities for remote monitoring, soaring patient engagement, and increased physician demand.
With so many digital options available, comprehensive partner evaluations are critical for identifying solutions with staying power, ensuring successful implementation, and developing the necessary infrastructure to support integration at scale. If health systems aren’t asking the right questions during their value assessments, they won’t see a return on their investments.
These are the top 5 questions health systems must consider before heading into their digital partner evaluations:
1. Of all the challenges we’re currently facing, which pain point is our biggest?
There is no singular solution that can address every challenge all at once, so prioritizing which outcomes matter most to you – and which outcomes will generate the greatest return – is essential. Whether it’s mitigating clinician burnout or better engaging patients with chronic conditions, identifying your primary issues will help you narrow your preliminary research, saving time and money right off the bat.
By the end of this inward reflection, health systems should be able to rank order which digital health solutions will best address their priorities, and should have heavily weighed the risks and benefits of implementing a pilot digital health program versus a commercial program.
2. How much risk are we willing to take?
Risk management is an imperative for health systems. If you’re going to invest in a digital health solution, you’ll want to be assured of a long-term return. Prospective partners should have the financial backing needed to continually improve their technology and infrastructure to make your investment worthwhile. Be sure to consider each prospective partner’s business longevity, experience implementing complex clinical integrations, and familiarity with navigating vendor technical evaluations and security risk assessments.
3. Has this solution been battle-tested clinically and commercially?
Promises are never as compelling as evidence, and in healthcare, repeatability is the gold standard. Health systems depend on life-changing and life-saving solutions every day to treat their patients, so it’s crucial that these solutions have demonstrated both clinical and real-world outcomes time after time. When evaluating a digital health partner, you’ll want to ask about their quantity of partnerships and breadth of experience working with health systems. Have they served similar patient populations as your target population, and most importantly, were they consistently successful?
If your health system is looking to eventually scale its digital integrations system-wide, you will also want to ask prospective partners about their experience working with other large healthcare organizations. This will help you gauge their ability to scale solutions across expansive health networks.
4. How can we avoid implementation pitfalls?
Your organization’s goals, workflows, and requirements are unique, so you’ll want to understand a prospective digital partner’s implementation framework as early as possible. During your initial discovery, be sure to discuss timelines, essential internal and external stakeholders, and any pre-qualifications that will expedite an EHR integration (e.g. Cerner® CODE validation).
Think back to the prioritized challenges you want to address – are there any aspects of their implementation process that contradict your goals? For example, if you’re looking to reduce clinician burnout, an implementation process requiring extensive training will not be effective.
Overall, the ideal implementation process should seamlessly merge with your health system’s existing workflows to minimize disruption to clinicians, and ultimately improve clinical and operational efficiencies.
5. Will this be the right decision a year from now?
Implementing a digital solution is not a stand-alone job, but rather a true partnership between a health system and a digital health company. There’s a lot at stake: your patients will associate the digital solution with your health system for a long time and in some cases, the solution will function as an extension of your care teams. The right partner will understand what a high-performing partnership entails and can identify the most meaningful metrics for success early on to help both parties stay on track to meet your goals.
Start having discussions around their approach to onboarding and engaging patients, how they’ve done this in the past, and which strategies and systems they have in place for long-term patient engagement.
It’s time to get serious about the changes digital health platforms will bring to your health system. Email email@example.com to learn more.