March 5, 2024

Nurturing Noble Wellness

Navigate the Path to Nourished Living

Digital health integration | Deloitte Insights

3 min read

Digital health tools can be more effective when health system leaders design offerings around consumer feedback. As one interviewee noted, “we started with self-scheduling options in our app. However, we realized patients were unhappy when physicians would cancel or change the appointment time with little notice. This happened because physicians, especially specialists who also work in other hospitals, had wavering schedules. Hence, we are now changing our approach, and doing it by piloting self-scheduling in a few primary care and specialty care areas. So far, this phased approach has succeeded.”

Digital adoption before and beyond the walls

The health system leaders we surveyed indicated that their organizations are focused on prevention and well-being, but the adoption and ability of digital technologies to improve consumer well-being has been spotty. The Deloitte 2022 Survey of US Health Care Consumers showed that consumers are more comfortable sharing health stats generated by wearables than they were a few years prior.2 However, our interviewees talked about how difficult it is to use this data unless it is well-integrated into their electronic health records (EHRs) and dedicated team members or analytical tools are used to interpret it. The interviewees also emphasized the risk of clinicians being overburdened if unfiltered data that is unnecessary for clinical purposes is sent their way directly.

Some interviewees noted an uptick in using digital technologies to complete health assessments remotely as a successful use case of integrating digital health tools to address consumers’ well-being needs. These assessments are helping health systems shift to a prevention-and-early-diagnosis model by detecting anomalies at a much earlier stage. That said, one executive noted that unless there’s a dedicated follow-up response to a consumer completing an on-line health assessment, it becomes a wasted effort.

Another focus area for many health systems seems to be addressing consumers’ needs beyond the walls. Taking advantage of the proliferation of digital technologies and advances in medical science, several health systems have set up digital “at-home” offerings in the last few years that allow them to take care of patients within the comfort of their homes.3 These offerings are working well, especially for some disease areas including chronic care, cardiac care, and mental health, according to the interviewees. Many of them discussed how health systems are partnering with digital health vendors on behavioral nudges, remote monitoring, clinician communications, and better internet solutions.

Many of these programs are still on a pilot basis and face operational and cost challenges, according to interviewees. One interviewee compared setting up hospital-at-home programs to setting up a wedding in a field because of the enormous logistical effort involved and the chance that “rain” (external factors such as inconsistent caregiver behavior, regulatory challenges) could mess up the planning. However, there was a consensus that these beyond-the-walls and hospital-at-home offerings are here to stay (and will further advance), so interviewees’ organizations are focused on standardizing processes and scaling efforts to address the future financial and business viability of these offerings.

Health systems should consider investing in business alignment, workforce, and processes to meet consumer needs before and beyond the walls

As discussed in the prior section, most organizations represented in the research are currently halfway along their journey of using digital technologies to fully capture consumer value before, within, and beyond the walls. There was a consensus among the survey respondents to accelerate this journey and most agreed that will require developing capabilities beyond tech strategy and infrastructure (figure 4). The areas of greatest need, according to the respondents, include aligning business operations, upskilling and hiring the right talent, and improving processes, change management, and workflows.

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