Digital innovation is top of mind for many health care leaders. In fact, 75 percent of health care leaders surveyed in a new study believe that digital innovation is important because of its impact on long-term strategy and competitive edge. However, 50 percent say that a lack of capital and “fear of creating unintended operational burdens,” create serious obstacles to implementing digital initiatives.

The Digital Innovation Survey, conducted by the American Hospital Association and AVIA, a leader in digital health, surveyed 317 leaders representing 48 states. The survey reveals the top five digital innovation priorities among health systems: patient-generated data and customized services; network utilization and management; referral management and in-network retention; social community support; and convenient patient access, such as telemedicine.

Although many respondents struggle to get digital projects up and running, the study reveals four things health care systems can do to bring innovative ideas into fruition.

  • Provide sufficient IT resources.
  • Create a flexible budget cycle.
  • Dedicate a funding pool.
  • Reserve a portion of each service line leader’s budget for digital innovation.

The average hospital takes 23 months to go from recognizing a need to fully scaling a solution. However, for organizations in which all four factors are present, digital innovation projects are completed 52 percent faster, reducing the cycle time to 12 months.

Creating a dedicated department for digital innovation projects is another strategy among leading health systems. In fact, many leaders report a growing interest in building stand-alone innovation centers, and 42 percent say their organizations each have a dedicated individual or department that “has the budget and authority necessary to create interdisciplinary work groups across the organization to support digital innovation.”