Why your health systems needs an organization-wide digital transformation strategy


Big-name companies and startups alike are turning their sights to the healthcare industry. Digital health companies received $14.7 billion in venture funding in the first half of 2021, surpassing the funding for all of 2020. Industry giants like Apple, Walmart, and Amazon, and growing startups like Hims | Hers and Clover are redefining the healthcare experience, creating healthcare solutions with digital as the foundation of their services. 

These new digital disruptors are forcing health systems to reconsider the “status quo” of healthcare and underscoring the importance of digital in order to survive — and thrive. While health systems are aware of the threat, many are not doing enough to incorporate digital as a core component of their business. 

The traditional health system business model is at risk. Organizations that invest in digital will win. Those that don’t will be left behind. 

Winning with a digital transformation strategy

Despite these major disruptors in the industry, health systems can still emerge stronger by infusing digital into their strategy at an organizational level. Systems that win will center digital as an imperative for the organization, and not silo digital into a single department. These organizations will shift from doing digital to being digital by creating an organization-wide digital transformation strategy

graph showing doing digital vs. being digital

Defining digital transformation strategy

To truly “be digital,” a health system must create an organization-wide digital transformation strategy that centers digital as a top priority for the organization and weaves it into the existing system-wide strategic plan. At its core, digital transformation marries data, automation, and virtual capabilities with a  strategy that helps define top areas across an organization where digital can make a meaningful, lasting, and rapid impact. 

Digital transformation is not throwing digital solutions at a problem to see what sticks. A digital transformation strategy is backed by internal and competitive research and aligned with organization-wide goals. It is a realistic roadmap to becoming a digital organization, supported by data and designed to address a health system’s unique challenges, embody the core mission,  and enable the faster achievement of goals. 

The digital transformation strategy imperative 

Many health systems recognize the need for digital in their organization, but it often takes the form of siloed, ineffective digital solutions. In any given health system, there may be a number of individual departments trying a different digital solution, often with no communication or coordination outside their silo. Without buy-in from across the organization or aligned goals, many of these digital initiatives are destined to fail.

Challenges of building a digital transformation strategy

70% of large-scale change programs don’t reach their stated goal due to lack of employee engagement, inadequate management support, poor cross-functional collaboration, and a lack of accountability. As AVIA CEO Linda Finkel said at a recent Member Summit, “digital transformation can be freaking hard.” 

While the benefits of getting an organization-wide digital transformation strategy off the ground far outweigh the challenges, health systems must be cognizant of the obstacles that many organizations face when creating a digital transformation strategy. AVIA supports health systems across the country create their digital transformation strategies, and we see three areas where health systems encounter obstacles:

  • Executive attention and stakeholder buy-in: An organization-wide digital strategy will not be successful without visibility and defined and well-socialized support.
  • Competing priorities: Many health systems try to do too many initiatives at once, leading to initiative fatigue or strategic priority fatigue. 
  • Cost: Organizations often struggle with the financial commitment for digital. Either they underinvest, or they shrink digital budgets in times of financial hardship because it’s a new endeavor that hasn’t been proven at the organization. 

Benefits of infusing digital at an organizational level

While it may be easier to work within departments and not aim for organization-wide digital adoption, that approach sets digital up for failure before it’s even implemented. Breaking out of silos and creating an all-encompassing digital transformation strategy is challenging, as outlined above, but the benefits far outweigh the obstacles. A successful organization-wide digital strategy:

  • Encourages an organization-wide acceptance of digital: By intertwining digital with the existing corporate strategy, health systems are baking digital into their DNA and measuring success at all levels with digital KPIs. 
  • Increases patient and provider satisfaction: Digital has been proven to improve patient and provider experience. Consumers now expect a seamless digital experience, and health systems must infuse digital at their core to meet these changing demands. 
  • Helps achieve organization KPIs: Successfully rolling out digital solutions backed by an organization-wide strategy can improve metrics across the board, from increasing revenue to lowering costs to improving quality scores to reducing patient mortality, and more.
  • Allows your organization to survive – and thrive: A robust digital transformation strategy that shifts organizations to “being digital” helps them stand up to big industry disruptors. It is the solution for adapting to the cataclysmic changes caused by COVID-19 and shifting consumer demands and expectations.

An organization-wide digital transformation strategy is essential for your health system’s continued success. Read more and discover AVIA’s tried-and-true three-step process to create a digital transformation strategy in our latest white paper, Healthcare Digitized: Building a Digital Transformation Strategy at Your Health System

Download the white paper