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Meeting the needs of end-users during digital transformation

Using data sharing as an example, here’s how to ensure both operational improvements and user experience get the attention they deserve.
By admin
Mar 16, 2022, 7:30 AM

Many digital transformation initiatives in healthcare emphasize business operations. These could be using a unified communications platform to improve care team collaboration or adopting analytics and artificial intelligence to enable a data-driven approach to clinical and business decision-making. No digital transformation effort is complete, though, without considering how the user experience will evolve once a new technology is in place.

The first part of our three-part series on digital transformation described how to overcome three common pitfalls: Alignment with business goals, implementation hurdles, and culture change. This piece explores how digital transformation will impact both patients and the hospital staff caring for them, with a specific look at data-sharing initiatives.

Patient experience and digital transformation clearly go hand in hand. A 2021 Deloitte survey of healthcare technology executives found that improved patient experience is the most important outcome of digital transformation. A separate survey from the financial adviser BDO indicated that health systems’ top priorities for digital transformation are tied to patient experience: Telemedicine, interoperability, and patient portals.

Related story: Part 3 – To ensure digital transformation success, prepare for the long haul

Patients, too, see the value of digital transformation – and data sharing in particular. According to a Pew Charitable Trusts report, 8 in 10 patients support increased access to health information (for themselves and their physicians), while 2 in 3 want to share data that federal policy currently doesn’t cover (from family medical history to advanced care plans). Not surprisingly, COVID-19 increased patients’ likelihood to support data sharing among healthcare organizations.

The data sharing example also illustrates the challenges associated with digital transformation. It’s important to evaluate every step of the process to ensure that layering on technology doesn’t worsen the experience. 

Writing in Harvard Business Review, former Partners Healthcare, Cerner, and Siemens Health Services executive John Glaser describes several “opportunities to deliver exceptional experiences” for patients, from telehealth and care at home to digital therapeutics and remote monitoring. Each opportunity has transformative potential, but health systems must consider two important data-sharing factors. 

One is how to present data from these encounters to clinical staff at the point of care; otherwise, the data is of little value for clinical care. The other is how to automate data collection and aggregation to minimize manual data entry and, as a second HBR piece notes, to make data useful for health information exchange, analysis, and reporting. Here, a uniform data architecture and standardized data format will help – but this must be emphasized at the onset of a digital transformation initiative, as attempting to implement this mid-project will only cause complications and delays.

While this piece touched primarily on data sharing, other digital transformation efforts can deliver tangible value to patients, a McKinsey survey found that patients prefer using digital tools for many tasks: Finding doctors, refilling prescriptions, monitoring vital signs, shopping for insurance, paying bills, and so on. Seeking direct feedback from patients will help healthcare organizations select the digital initiatives that meet their needs and expectations and, in turn, align digital transformation work with business objectives. 


Brian Eastwood is a Boston-based writer with more than 10 years of experience covering healthcare IT and healthcare delivery. He also writes about enterprise IT, consumer technology, and corporate leadership.

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