Well on its way and now barreling down the mountain toward you, gaining momentum, is the avalanche of Digital Health Solutions. Preliminary mini-avalanches, like meteor showers, have steadily been arriving – and are being picked up and used by companies operating outside the traditional health system, such as Walmart Health, Amazon Care, or Oscar.

So what is a clinic, a health system, an urgent care provider to do? How can you prepare for the avalanche of innovative solutions fueled by the digitization of data and ubiquitous interconnectivity? How can you keep you with the inevitable availability of digital health solutions that Modern Healthcare Consumers expect (and soon will demand)?

Of course not all solutions in this avalanche will stand the test of time (and will crumble to snowdust) and not all solutions will lower the cost of care, at least not directly for those providing the care.

Many organizations are taking a “this too shall pass” stance, given their limited capacity to take on anything new in the context of the challenges of running a healthcare business in an environment with skyrocketing cost, changing payor powers and increasing government interference.

But sticking your head in the sand can only get you by for so long and by the time they pull their heads out, traditional healthcare providers (which, mind you, in their current form have “only” been around for half a dozen decades or so, if even) may find themselves abandoned and obsolete.

When you are facing the threat of an avalanche coming toward you, you need two basic things to stand a chance of surviving: A strategy (where is the best shelter? where can I be found? How can I create a cavity to preserve oxygen?) and the ability to adapt to the rapidly changing situation.

In my assessment, healthcare providers need the same two key things to be able to deal with the onslaught of digital solutions and services that are threatening business as usual: a digital health adoption strategy that defines where to spend their attention, energy, and resources on paired with a scalable, repeatable innovation adoption methodology to quickly assess and integrate digital health solutions and services into their existing workflows and systems.

To “divide & conquer” the challenging task of devising a strategy and an adaptive methodology, we use the following simple framework for Digital Health that four realms which cover over 90% of today’s digital health offerings:

  • Connected Health: Empowering wellness through continuous and intermittent access to care and information
  • Personalized Care: Creating a superb care experience à la Ritz Carlton and Disney.
  • Individualized Medicine: Diagnosis and tailored care based on people’s unique characteristics
  • Quality Decisions: Enabling clinicians, patients, care teams and administrators to make better decisions

A Digital Health Adoption Strategy needs to, at a minimum,

  • assess the organization’s maturity in each of the four realms
  • define a realistic near-term (2-3 year) vision of the future describing what the organization desires to achieve for its patients and its staff
  • quantify the value of achieving the future image and the cost of doing nothing to justify the required investment
  • design a roadmap of achievable milestones toward that near-term vision

While some organizations have a Digital Health Strategy, very few have a scalable, repeatable Innovation Adoption Methodology that is being consciously evolved. In order to deal with the multiple avalanches (which will come in waves), organizations need to build the capacity to validate a digital health solution’s fit in a matter of months, not years and deploy the solution where needed in a matter of weeks, not months.

The “new kids on the block” in healthcare all have parents who have made it their business to thrive on innovation and it is that superpower to rapidly adopt and to iteratively adapt that is the biggest threat to the healthcare delivery system as we know it.

The best time to define your Digital Health Adoption Strategy and your Innovation Adoption Methodology was 5 years ago. The next best time is today.

Because the avalanche is coming.

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Christian Milaster optimizes Telehealth Services for health systems and physician practices as Interim Telehealth Program Director. Christian is the Founder and President of Ingenium Digital Health Advisors where he and his expert consortium partner with healthcare leaders to enable the delivery of extraordinary care.

Contact Christian by phone or text at 657-464-3648, via email, or video chat.

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