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Marcus Perez, President, Altera Digital Health

Healthcare executives get inundated with hundreds of pitches a year from technology companies looking to showcase their latest wares designed to solve problems within the care continuum.  From extremely niche solutions to all-in-one “silver bullet” platforms, leaders are constantly under pressure to buy more, implement faster, and push staff members further into a golden age of fully digitized healthcare.

There’s no question that technology can bring enormous benefits to providers, patients, and organizations as a whole. But, getting carried away by the “more is better” mentality can have serious negative impacts on an organization’s ability to meaningfully integrate and exchange data, support high-value clinical care — and perhaps most importantly, offer personalized, intuitive digital experiences to both patients and providers.

Instead of thinking of digital development as a flat-out footrace to plug a technical solution into every imaginable process, healthcare leaders need to think iteratively and intelligently about what needs to be digitized, how new technologies will affect workflows, and who needs to be involved in the process from the very beginning.

The digitization of healthcare should be an evolution, not just an acceleration. A steady cadence of continuous improvement, rooted in targeted metrics and collaborative feedback from end-users, is the only way to achieve digital maturity while optimizing experiences, delighting users, and maintaining an exceptional quality of care.

Platforms should adapt to people, not the other way around

With provider burnout at an all-time high, now is not the time to push rigid and inflexible technology products onto a staff that is already struggling to cope with numerous stressors.  Instead, executive leaders need to adopt technologies that help clinicians manage cognitive burdens by empowering staff members to personalize how they incorporate technology into their day-to-day processes.

A technology implementation should be collaborative, not dictatorial, and leaders must listen to what their end-users are saying about how technology helps (or hinders) their ability to work at the tops of their licenses.

Be curious, creative, adaptable, and accepting of feedback while directly involving users in the process from beginning to end.

For example, using Human-Centered Design (HCD) strategies to co-create with end-users is crucial for developing personalized workflows that will exceed expectations and actually get used in an appropriate manner.

The real-world impact of an evolutionary approach to digital health

The iterative approach can have significant benefits for clinical users and their patients.  Collaboratively addressing bottlenecks, such as data integration pain points and difficulty accessing data at the point of care, can improve productivity, reduce frustration and lead to timelier, more informed care decisions.

For example, Altera Digital Health partnered with Hendrick Health System in Texas to develop a mobile EHR solution that enables clinicians to easily review clinical data on-the-go and make real-time chart updates at the bedside or in between patient visits.  Because clinical feedback was part of the design process from the start and users could engage with the tool in their own flexible way, clinicians scored the product’s usability higher than any other EHR mobile clinical product.

Meanwhile, at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), leaders were trying to manage 78 disparate health IT systems.  It was clear that the data integration ecosystem needed to evolve.  Working with Altera to aggregate data in a new way resulted in a much more harmonious and user-centered infrastructure.  After implementing the new approach, two-thirds of clinicians said their decision-making process improved because they now had timely, relevant, and accurate data at their fingertips.

Neither of these organizations reflexively tried to pile on new solutions in an already complex environment.  Instead, they paused, listened, collaborated with a likeminded technology company, and leveraged their existing strengths to create a next-level digital experience for their organizations and the patients who rely on them. This allows providers to interact more intuitively with their digital tools while optimizing accessibility and care for patients, ensuring clear and immediate results for both.

By resisting the temptation to overwhelm their users with pure digital acceleration and sharing their commitment to wellness and the individual’s healthcare journey, health systems of any size can take a more focused, measured, and personalized path to achieving their technology goals.  With intelligent, iterative planning, active engagement with staff members, and a technology partner that embraces a similar philosophy, healthcare organizations can achieve their goals which ensure a comprehensive patient view while laying the groundwork for continuous improvement over the long term.

To learn more about Altera Health’s iterative approach to personalizing digital experiences for healthcare providers, check out this video.