American Hospital Association: Digital innovation is on the menu

The fall season each year always seem to bring with it a host of new studies, surveys and research. Perhaps there’s no coincidence here or possibly, as someone who has worked with the media for more than a decade, the season is simply a good time to catch industry leaders and voices once they come back from their summer vacation. Nonetheless, we’ve once again found ourselves with no dearth of great information to examine, the following included.

The following pertains to healthcare’s digital innovation efforts that seem to point out the fact that 75 percent healthcare leaders “believe” digital innovation is related directly to their long-term strategy and competitiveness. This is a finding from a new study by the American Hospital Association and AVIA.

The American Hospital Association and AVIA contacted 317 hospital executives and 75 percent who said digital innovation is a priority at their organization and 69 percent said if their health system wasn't experimenting consistently, it was playing it too safe. However, respondents also report that significant barriers to innovation remain, including resources, funding and operational capacity.

Three out of four survey respondents say they believe that digital innovation must include partnering with other innovative organizations. Comments from executives also reveal a desire for thought leadership about innovative examples, best practices and metrics.

The survey indicates areas of importance where hospitals have already invested in digital innovation, including benefits management, operational efficiency and primary care delivery. Priorities for future investment, according to the survey, are patient-generated data and customized services; network utilization and management; and referral management and in-network retention.

“It’s clear that hospitals recognize and embrace the importance of digital innovation,” said Maryjane Wurth, the American Hospital Association’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Our hope is that by collecting and sharing this data about their aspirations, priorities and challenges we can accelerate the pace of change in the field.”

“Successfully scaling innovation is a strategic imperative, and these survey results crack the code,” said Eric Langshur, CEO and co-founder of AVIA. “We now know that top performers share traits that allow them to accelerate innovation 52 percent faster than average organizations, shortening time to impact by a full year. It’s never been more essential or accessible to take action.”

Not all the news is good, though. More than half of leaders reported delaying innovation because of cost, and worries about operational burdens. Likewise, digital innovation can be achieved through four factors, the report states. Organizations need to have sufficient IT resources, a flexible budget cycle, a dedicated funding pool, and they should also reserve some of each service line leader’s budget for digital innovation. Having all of these can speed innovation by more than 50 percent. Additionally, recent priorities in digital innovation include employee benefits management, primary care delivery and utilization, convenient patient access, including telemedicine, operational efficiencies and improvements, and care transition and post-acute sites of care.

While this news might be a bit in the weeds, the details here are powerful for the industry to assume additional insight to provide leadership on organizational innovation.

Scott Rupp's picture

Scott Rupp


Scott E. Rupp is a writer and an award-winning journalist focused on healthcare technology. He has worked as a public relations executive for a major electronic health record/practice management vendor, and he currently manages his own agency, millerrupp. In addition to writing for a variety of publications, Scott also offers his insights on healthcare technology and its leaders on his site, Electronic Health Reporter.

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