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Where Health Systems Are Prioritizing Digital Investments

Analysis  |  By Jay Asser  
   June 17, 2024

The technology organizations are implementing doesn’t always align with what they feel is most impactful.

While hospitals and health systems recognize the importance of investing in technology to alleviate the multitude of challenges they’re facing, deciding which areas should command the most resources isn’t always clear.

In many cases, hospital leaders may see higher upside with one technology but invest in another due to it being lower risk or having a more defined roadmap for success.

That dynamic was highlighted in a recent survey by McKinsey & Company, which fielded responses from 200 global health system executives, including approximately 60% based in the United States.

The respondents revealed that their organizational investments don’t necessarily align with the digital areas that could have the most impact. For example, only 90 executives (45%) reported implementing advanced analytics, AI, machine learning, or generative AI, despite it finishing first in biggest potential impact with 88 respondents ranking it in their top three.

Generative AI is an area hospital CEOs are exploring to reduce administrative burden placed on clinicians. Time-saving solutions that allow physicians to streamline documentation or inbox management can be valuable in combating burnout.

Conversely, revenue cycle management and back-office automation were the second-most invested in digital area with 140 executives reporting implementation, but ranked sixth in terms of biggest potential impact (47).

One area that did show alignment was virtual health to drive patient experiences and access, which was the most implemented technology in the survey, chosen by 152 executives (76%), and finished second in biggest potential impact (71).

The survey also illustrated that health systems may be struggling to scale their digital solutions as 75% of executives said their organizations haven’t planned or allocated enough resources to deliver on investment priorities, despite 72% reporting satisfaction in the investment they have made.

Budget or capital limitations were most often chosen as the top challenge to executing digital and AI transformation in the next two years, while 51% of executives ranked it in their top three.

Difficulty upgrading legacy systems was ranked as a top three concern by 109 respondents, including 33 who selected it as the number one challenge.

Not every health system will have the resources to pour into technology investments, but as pain points like the workforce shortage continue to hinder organizations’ viability, leaders must be proactive in implementing solutions when possible to increase operational efficiency.

Jay Asser is the contributing editor for strategy at HealthLeaders. 


A survey of 200 global health system executives by McKinsey & Company uncovered the digital areas that are seeing the most investment, with virtual health to drive patient experiences and access leading the way.

Despite respondents ranking advanced analytics, AI, machine learning, and generative AI first for the biggest potential impact, most organizations have yet to invest there.

Budget constraints and challenges with upgrading legacy systems were at the top of the list for concerns in executing digital and AI transformation in the next two years.

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