How America’s healthcare leaders are changing course to navigate a changed world

As the healthcare industry emerges from the pandemic, its leaders are embarking on a major reprioritization to improve the delivery of patient care.

This is one of the key findings of the 2022 Future Health Index report, titled “Healthcare is being reset: Priorities are shifting as healthcare leaders navigate a changing world”. This seventh annual report from global technology provider Philips analyzes feedback from nearly 3,000 healthcare leaders in 15 countries on the impact of digital health technology in the adoption of connected care. (Click here for the US edition of the report. Click here for the global edition.)

Many health leaders are refocusing on new and existing priorities, from solving staffing shortages and expanding care delivery to harnessing big data and predictive analytics, Jan Kimpen revealed. Chief Medical Officer at Philips.

Urgent need to remedy burnout

The challenges in health staffing are well known. In January 2022, 20% of US hospitals reported critical staffing shortages, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, while a recent Kaiser Family Foundation/Washington Post survey found that about three in 10 healthcare workers had considered leaving their profession.

One of the main factors behind these challenges is staff burnout. According to the Future Health Index 2022, more than half of all healthcare workers suffer from burnout which, when left untreated, drives many to leave the industry.

Staff satisfaction and retention was a priority for 11% of U.S. healthcare leaders in 2021, but a priority for 29% in 2022, according to the report.

Technology helps overworked staff

Understanding the pressures on their staff, US health officials are also seeing how technology can help alleviate them. They know the devastation the pandemic has taken on their staff, as well as the competing opportunities for healthcare professionals.

They also see the value that telehealth and AI can offer in terms of achieving the Quadruple Aim, particularly improving the staff experience, according to the report. Leaders understand that technology can transform the staff experience, from reducing workloads to increasing time spent with patients and enabling collaboration with specialists around the world – all factors that can reduce the burnout, according to the report.

“Ultimately, we see healthcare leaders embarking on a reset to meet the demands of a fundamentally changed world – a world they hope to shape and improve using data and predictive analytics. “

Jan Kimpen, Philips

Their investments in technologies, such as telehealth and AI, can ease the burdens faced by healthcare professionals, as can the partnerships that provide these services to staff, according to the report.

Some 22% of US healthcare leaders today invest in artificial intelligence to optimize operational efficiency, 17% to integrate diagnostics, 15% to predict outcomes and 15% for clinical decision support. according to the report.

The need for strong peers and suppliers

Health informatics peers and vendors can help provide much-needed expertise. Drawing on experiences of collaboration they have forged during the pandemic, US healthcare leaders recognize that solving the human capital crisis relies on partnerships, according to the Philips report.

Peers are the first choice of partners America’s healthcare leaders value what they can learn from their peers. Today, 38% say other hospitals and healthcare facilities would be the preferred external partner to help them get the most out of data.

These types of peer-to-peer collaboration provide opportunities for staff to learn from other specialists and for facilities to share resources, which can help combat burnout, according to the report.

When it comes to health IT vendors, the top preferences of U.S. health care leaders for what working strategically with a health technology company would deliver include, according to the report: flexible payment models, 30% ; access to innovative technologies and expertise, 29%; integration of technology in my hospital/health facility, 29%; strong strategic vision on the capabilities that health systems will need to thrive in the future, 28%; resources and/or services to accelerate implementation and adoption, 28%.

Cementing the value of telehealth

In the 2021 Future Health Index report, top priorities for US healthcare leaders focused heavily on using core technologies such as telehealth to address the clinical and operational challenges they faced due to the pandemic.

Two-thirds (65%) identified “facilitating the transition to virtual or remote care” as their top priority. To do this, 89% of healthcare leaders were investing in telehealth. As a result, the use of telehealth has increased dramatically.

A study by consultancy McKinsey & Company found that although usage has fallen somewhat as the pandemic recedes, telehealth still accounts for 17% of all medical appointments – 38 times more than before the pandemic. pandemic – with some areas of care, such as mental health health, continuing to grow.

Access to care for health equality

According to the report, US health officials identify several types of initiatives to address health equity in their communities.

By far the most important initiatives relate to care delivery – “improving access to care” and “providing care in the community”. This aligns with extensive National Vital Statistics System research showing that in most states, African Americans and American Indians/Alaska Natives are more likely than whites to die prematurely from diseases that can be treated with quick access to high-quality health care.

About 25% of US healthcare leaders report having initiatives in place to improve health equity by increasing access to care, with 24% providing care in the community/ community outreach, 17% by promoting community education, 16% by generating financial support for underserved communities, and 11% by identifying collaborative partners, according to the report.

conclusion

The Future Health Index 2022 paints a picture of an industry that has seen dramatic transformation in recent years, which has accelerated rapidly over the past 12 months, said Philips Chief Medical Officer Kimpen.

“Rather than continuing to focus solely on the pandemic, we are seeing today’s healthcare leaders dramatically shift their priorities to meet new standards of medical management,” he said. “Specifically, leaders indicated three key priorities for 2022 and beyond: addressing the human capital crisis, pursuing digital transformation to improve interoperability and fully unleash the potential of health data, and closing the gap equality in health care and prioritizing sustainability.”

The U.S. healthcare industry has taken stock and refocused its priorities after another year of transformations and amid growing complex challenges that will endure well beyond the pandemic, staffing shortages and security threats to the exponential increase in chronic diseases, he added.

“Ultimately, we see healthcare leaders embarking on a reset to meet the demands of a fundamentally changed world – a world they hope to shape and improve using data and predictive analytics” , he concluded.

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the author: bsiwicki@himss.org
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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