Health Tech

What ‘Digital Transformation’ Means to 3 Health System Execs

During a panel at HIMSS, three health system leaders explained what digital transformation means to them and how they’re seeking it play out at their organizations.

Digital transformation is long overdue in the healthcare industry. 

However, health systems all across the nation are making strides to catch up on the digital transformation journey, mainly by adopting AI and advanced analytics tools to harness the power of their data. Hospitals own a vast amount of data — and they’re finally applying technology to this data to boost operational efficiency, personalize care, improve clinical workflows and enhance patient outcomes.

During a panel last week at the HIMSS conference in Orlando, three health system leaders explained what digital transformation means to them and how they’re seeking it play out at their organizations.

Tapping into the power of data

Digital transformation is all about figuring out how to “fully leverage” the data that a health system collects, said Austin Park, chief technology officer at LCMC Health in New Orleans.

“There’s no lack of data in healthcare. We have a ton of data, but we’re not able to really empower that data or give that information back to our users. Over the last few years, we’ve been focusing on how to provide the resources and tools necessary for all of our users to be able to fully leverage that data — and the reality is that we lacked the physical hardware resources in most cases,” he explained.

Moving to AWS’s cloud has been helpful, Park noted. The company provides the infrastructure LCMC needs to bring new data and AI capabilities to its facilities, he said.

Moving to the cloud

Beth Falder, assistant vice president of data analytics at Nuvance Health, pointed out that the digital transformation process is critically important when two health systems merge. 

Her health system, which is based in Connecticut, is a result of two health systems that merged in 2019. Nuvance also announced plans to combine with Northwell Health late last month.

“When the two health systems merged into one, there were legacy data structures and vendors here, there and everywhere, all with different reporting capabilities — it was a bit like the wild west. So we decided to transform all of that into the cloud, bring all the data sources together, create that data lake/data mesh environment, and then refine what we need for the standard reporting that we have — and see where the journey can take us from there,” Falder explained.

The journey is becoming more exciting every day with all of the AI innovations entering the market, she added. Moving to the cloud gives providers “a great footprint and foundation to start that work,” she declared.

The work “never finishes,” Falder noted. As technologies continue to get more advanced, healthcare leaders will have to work even harder to put the right guardrails around these tools and ensure they are performing well, she said.

Being agile

Most health systems are still in very iterative stages when it comes to their AI deployment, noted Melek Somai, chief technology officer at Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin Health Network. As they continue to pilot new tools, hospitals must remember to maintain agility by quickly scaling programs that are working well and quickly nixing ones that aren’t, he explained.

“It’s about discovery and exploration. We need to be really good at the research side, but also be able to fail fast and do things at scale,” Somai remarked.

Photo: ValeryBrozhinsky, Getty Images