Six out of 10 healthcare organizations lag in digital health adoption

By Jonah Comstock
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A Kaiser Permanente video visit. A Kaiser Permanente video visit.

Nearly 60 percent of healthcare organizations are either behind on their digital health strategy or lack one entirely, according to a new survey of 450 healthcare companies from Validic.

Specifically, 59 percent said they were behind on their strategy or didn't have one, while 41 percent said they were on track with their digital health strategy. Respondents included hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, wellness companies and healthcare technology companies.

“The purpose of this survey was to provide the healthcare ecosystem with an important update and valuable insights on the progress the industry is making with digital health,” Validic Chief Marketing Officer Chris Edwards said in a statement. “We are seeing strong examples of companies who are innovating and making progress leveraging digital health to help them advance their overall business. It was interesting to find that more than half of healthcare organizations say they have no digital health strategy or are behind schedule. We know these companies are looking for a way to accelerate their digital health initiatives, and that is why we wanted share this information, as well as provide some commonalities of thriving healthcare organizations. Digital health is moving from being a competitive, speed-to-market advantage to being a vital component of a company’s success and relevance in the new healthcare landscape. Now is the time to be executing.”

In a whitepaper associated with the survey, Validic contends that digital health services like telehealth and remote patient monitoring, which used to convey a competitive advantage to adopters, are increasingly becoming necessary to stay competitive in healthcare.

"It was only three years ago that Becker’s Hospital Review wrote that EHRs, smartphone applications and tablets were going to be competitive advantages for hospitals," the whitepaper reads. "Today, those technologies are ubiquitous. Of healthcare providers, more than 75 percent have at least a basic EHR, and 70 percent of caregivers at hospitals use smartphones or tablets in daily care coordination. Technology is forcing the healthcare industry, which has historically moved slowly due to a number of regulatory and other factors, to move at a staggeringly quick pace to maintain competitive relevance."

The whitepaper lays out some case studies of success in digital health implementation. Kaiser Permanente saw more than 10 million patients by e-visit in 2013, for instance, and expects to see more patients through telehealth than in person in 2016. Partners Healthcare in Boston has reduced heart failure-related hospital readmissions among a select group of high-risk patients by 50 percent. And Utica Park Clinic, a multi-specialty physician group in the Midwest, used analytics software to identify gaps in the care of over 65,000 patients and create communication,
outreach and engagement programs to address those patients' needs.

Kaiser Permanente Ventures is, of course, a major investor in Validic -- it led the company's $12.5 million round in April. Validic works with healthcare providers and others to help them integrate data streams from many different apps and devices into one secure, easy-to-interact with pipe. This includes consumer devices like those made by Fitbit and Jawbone, sports devices like those from Polar and Garmin, and medical devices — anything that connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth.

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