Why Are CIOs More Focused on Efficiency Than Experience?
As mobile usage continues to outpace desktop, how can health systems capture greater value from their digital investments—specifically mobile investments? A short survey of healthcare CIOs, followed by a roundtable discussion uncovered three key insights regarding mobile decision making, prioritization, and investment in healthcare. A summary report of the survey and focus group shows that a critical piece of the puzzle is ensuring internal processes are ship shape before taking on new projects.
Research shows the stakes for designing the right mobile experience—often an organization’s first digital entry point into a health system—are high. One out of four consumers would switch providers for high-quality digital services. With consumer organizations like Amazon taking bigger steps into healthcare, the cost of inaction for traditional health systems is one that few can afford to bear.
For many of these organizations, however, digital strategy starts with streamlining internal processes and making clinical processes more efficient. Such endeavors help ease increasing demands on staff at a time when more frontline personnel than ever are leaving the field, and administrative pressures increasingly deflate productivity and morale. “We focus on efficiency and effectiveness [of digital tools] before moving toward the patient experience,” one healthcare CIO said.
However, a well-rounded strategy includes design elements that address patient-facing needs, from the ability to check wait times at local emergency departments (EDs) to resources for finding a doctor or scheduling an appointment from their smartphone.
Some organizations find it challenging to put a well-rounded mobile strategy into play. When health systems do invest in consumer-facing digital applications, they often aren’t sure which services to launch first. This can lead to a mix of mobile offerings that feel as if they have been chosen without intention. “I’d say we are being reactive to the capabilities that our vendors are providing to us,” one CIO said. “Because of the need for mobile to integrate with our other systems, we’re beholden at this point to what our vendors provide. I’m sure what they provide could be better, but for now, we’re limited to what they can do for us.”
One CIO shared that while the initial goal for digital implementation at a previous system aimed to steer patients away from the ED toward urgent care centers, “You can’t publish a single-function app like that, so we included a lot of other stuff, like geo-mapping to the nearest network lab and access to wait times at facilities,” he said, further adding, “We launched a mobile app with five or six different features that were externally facing.”
The Gozio study found that about 70% of health systems with a mobile app rely on EHR functionality for their mobile platform. Among these users, about 20% do not customize their app. The biggest reasons: they don’t have the budget, haven’t found the right vendor or aren’t sure how to get started.
As two-thirds of the healthcare CIOs plan to boost investment in mobile technology over the next three years, customization ranks high on CIOs’ list of things to investigate. “We are exploring a third-party vendor to see if they can add new features,” a healthcare CIO said.