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Digital Health Governance is at a Premium

Previously, I highlighted artificial intelligence, and all the opportunities it brings to the industry. In the final blog of this series we explore data governance and its role in digital health.

Given the other four trends, one of the biggest challenges will continue to be obtaining executive buy-in for digital health initiatives. That means actively breaking down siloes, instilling risk-taking innovation in roles and responsibilities, and being comfortable with adaptive tension.

Healthcare has long been an odd duck in terms of innovation. On the one hand, there is continual groundbreaking discovery across clinical fields with new treatments, drugs, and protocols emerging all the time. By contrast, the patient experience of healthcare has actually changed remarkably little intrinsically in 50 years. Yes, it is changing rapidly now, but still in the context of normative consumer perception of the relationship between patient, physician, specialist, and insurer.

Increasingly, healthcare companies are challenging these norms. Not just by many start-ups focused on re-inventing and streamlining the patient experience (admittedly almost all focused on primary care, non-specialty or at least non-acute environments) —but also by incumbents, earnestly trying to redefine their images.

The task of those assigned with digital innovation at any provider is daunting. The reality is that digital health is no longer an interesting specialty topic. It is a priority. Nevertheless, invariably providers’ culture, organizational structure, and hierarchy do not reflect that importance and this results in impaired performance and under-powered leadership.

Digital governance is more than a team focusing on digital and it is more than a digitally savvy leader atop a group tasked with digital innovation. Digital governance has to be embedded in the vision, strategy, and mission, from top to bottom. It must be reflected in organizational structures that encourage and reward digital innovation.

The nutshell is (over)communication and (over)teaming. Individual physician adoption of digital innovations (from iPhone onward) has always far outpaced institutional adoption of the same capabilities. This is a telling sign. On an individual basis, physicians are equally—if not more—accepting of change than their patients, as compared with provider organizations. The reasons—risk, cost, etc.—may be obvious, but the relative appetite for risk in the field of patient experience and digital care delivery will change, and your organization can either be ahead of that curve, or behind it.

Questions to Consider

  • Where does digital health fit in the purview of your senior executives?
  • What do you believe to be the awareness of your senior leadership (clinical, operational, marketing, IT, etc.) of the role that digital health will play in the future success of your organization?
  • Are your success metrics for your leadership aligned to promote or detract from digital health innovation and adoption?

To learn more about the top five digital health trends for providers, you can click here or download the guide below.

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David Allen

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