A survey of more than 200 healthcare executives by IDC and Redox finds that despite the tough economy, health systems will be spending more on technology like AI and RPM to address workforce issues and improve clinical care pathways.
The push to stay on top of the digital health landscape is prompting healthcare organizations to increase their technology investment in the coming year. And they're very interested in automation and remote patient monitoring solutions.
That's the takeaway from a new survey from Redox and global tech advisory firm IDC, which analyzed the insights of some 205 IT executives at US-based health systems. Of that sampling, 88% said they plan to increase their third-party technological investments in 2023-24.
While the results of the survey might be surprising considering many health systems are struggling to stay in the black during an uncertain economy, the emphasis on technology investment isn't. Recent events like the American Telemedicine Association conference, HLTH, HIMSS, and ViVE have all been dominated by discussions on using technology to improve back-end processes and clinical care pathways and address workforce shortages, stress and burnout.
According to the survey, more than half of healthcare IT executives see digital transformation as the most important goal for their organization, with 35% citing cost reduction and 31% picking either improving quality of care or improving patient safety as critical goals. Another 30% selected using data as a strategic asset.
Those priorities are intersecting with two trends in healthcare: The development of AI and the shift of services from the hospital to the home.
According to the survey, almost 70% of healthcare executives see telemedicine and other virtual care solutions as playing a key role in addressing staff shortages, still the biggest pain point facing health systems. More than 60% say RPM programs will be critical, and just over 40% see increased value in automated appointment scheduling tools.
Additionally, 43% said they have RPM programs in place now or are making additional investments, and 55% said their using the platform to manage patients with chronic conditions or to trigger real-time clinical interventions, while 45% plan to use RPM to enable earlier discharge of high-risk or frail patients. Some 77% of those surveyed said they'll have between five and 20 RPM programs by 2024, and amny said they'll be expanding to cover behavioral health treatment as well.
Just as important, if not more so, is the use of automation to gather and analyze healthcare data coming into the enterprise. Almost 50% of those surveyed say automation will be a key benefit when deploying new technology, while 43% cite reduced costs, 40% cite data reliability, and 39% list data availability. Another 31% point to organizational agility as a top benefit, hinting at the growing issue of competition in the healthcare space.
On the flip side, integration and interoperability are still key challenges in getting all that new technology to work. Some 40% of healthcare executives surveyed cited integration and middleware as their biggest IT headaches, coming just ahead of privacy, security, and data protection.
“Delivering health data that’s complete, accurate, and standardized at the point of care makes it possible for providers to offer the personalized care that consumers want,” Redox CEO Luke Bonney said in an accompanying press release. “But before that can happen, the data must be usable; clinicians, as users, must be able to customize their data experience, accessing only the data they want, when and where they need it.”
As far as multimodal strategies go, roughly half of those surveyed see mobile applications as the most beneficial digital patient engagement platform, while a third also call it the most challenging to use and deploy.
Finally, healthcare leaders say in-person trade events, which have been on the rebound since the end of the pandemic, are their most influential source of information on new technologies. Some 30% selected events, while 27% picked peer review sites, and 26% selected either interactions with sales executives or vendor advertising.
Eric Wicklund is the associate content manager and senior editor for Innovation, Technology, Telehealth, Supply Chain and Pharma for HealthLeaders.
Some 88% of executives surveyed say they plan to increase third-party technological investments in 2023-24.
Much of that investment will go toward automation tools and virtual care, as health systems look to improve back-end operations and data gathering and analysis and continue the trend of moving hospital services to the home.
Data integration and middleware are cited as causing the biggest headaches among healthcare executives, just ahead of privacy, security, and data protection.