Defining Digital in a New Age of Digital Transformation
To begin the session “Digital-First: Live and Let Die,” panelists defined digital within their roles. Dr. Albert Chan, chief digital health officer for Sutter Health, said his relationship to digital within his role is to improve access to care and reduce friction.
Dr. Ashis Barad, chief digital and information officer at Allegheny Health Network, understands his role through what he calls the “five E framework”: experiences, engagement, empowerment, efficacy and earnings. As CDIO, his work encompasses creating positive patient and clinician experiences and well-being, and implementing digital solutions that are efficient and financially sustainable.
For Adventist Health’s Jennifer Stemmler, the role of chief digital officer involves centering the consumer as well as the digital. This is now expanding to clinicians and associates. Access, retention, engagement and growth are the key tenets of the digital experience she is creating.
Sara Vaezy, chief strategy and digital office at Providence, said her organization began its digital transformation by looking at demand generation, aggregation and capture, from discovery to care delivery. Her team is focused on driving growth for the health system through data-driven marketing, consumer data platforms and other digital experiences based on input from clinicians across the health system.
How to Design Digital Solutions for Clinicians
Due to increased burnout, Chan said, many clinicians are quiet quitting, meaning they do less work.
“When thinking about workflows, you have to take a critical look and question whether a technology may make the workflow better for clinicians,” he said. “When deploying solutions, look at 30, 60, 90 and 120 days to see the impact economically, operationally and on patient experience.”
Barad said it’s important to involve clinicians early in the process and to be clear about what problems the organizations is trying to solve.
“Often, there’s a solution that is then brought to the provider. We need to flip that and practice empathetic listening,” he explained. “What problem are we really trying to solve? Then really partner with clinicians early in the design phase.”
Vaezy agreed, adding, “For us, I don’t know what the value would be of building or deploying digital transformation from within if we don’t take advantage of the closeness with our clinical operation partners. That’s the whole value.”
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Providence spends a lot of time on problem definition through different lenses, including the health system, patient, consumer and provider lenses. Doing this helps the organization frame the problem and understand its potential size and impact. Once a digital tool is implemented, the organization monitors how clinicians and patients interact with it to understand its efficacy.
“Whether it’s something we built or partnered on, we make sure the instrumentation is there to measure its value,” she said. “We take a holistic approach.”
However, chief digital officers need more than just clinician acceptance for a successful technology implementation. It’s also critical to get executive buy-in.
Stemmler explained that change management is hard work. “Until the executive team has bought in, getting change on the front line becomes impossible,” she added.
There is often a sense that decisions are made at the top at a level beyond the frontline healthcare team. Barad emphasized the importance of communication with the clinicians and healthcare staff to increase transparency about work being done. If clinicians are engaged from the beginning and the organization learns from them and their struggles directly, then their voice will have an impact on technology decisions.
“It’s not a top-down approach. The clinicians were all there. It was the nurses and nurse managers who did that,” he said. “It’s not coming from us. We’re just there to enable and empower.”