HIT Perspectives

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HIT Perspectives – February 2024

Unleashing the Power of Digital Health: Transformative Life Sciences Strategies for Enhanced Patient Outcomes

Brian-Bamberger-cir By Brian Bamberger, Life Sciences Practice Lead


Quick Summary

•    Digital Health Programs: Digital health programs are increasingly becoming key tools in health system efforts to alleviate workflow and administrative burdens and improve clinical outcomes.
•    EHRs and Digital Health Technology:
Successful digital health programs leverage the strategic use of EHRs and digital health technology, particularly in the areas of automating workflows, implementing clinical guidelines and quality measures, and fostering patient engagement.
•    Real-World Digital Health Initiatives:
Health systems such as Henry Ford and Lehigh Valley are just two of many that are successfully using health IT as the foundation of their transformative digital health programs.
•    Pharma’s Role:
Pharmaceutical companies are poised to help health systems develop and implement digital health programs, with suggested areas of focus that include simplifying drug prescription and administration.
•    Calls to Action:
Pharmaceutical companies should undertake three main actions to ensure they effectively help health system customers deploy digital health programs that ultimately improve outcomes.

Digital health programs, specifically those utilizing electronic health records (EHRs) and cutting-edge healthcare information technology (health IT), have emerged as dynamic solutions. Their aim is not only improving patient outcomes but also reducing workflow friction and administrative burdens that may impact speed to therapy and subsequent patient adherence.

Whether developed internally within a health system or collaboratively with input from both the health system and its pharmaceutical partners, digital health programs have the potential to significantly impact administrative and clinical workflows, patient engagement and care outcomes.

Decoding Digital Health: How EHRs Help Transform Patient Care

Digital health programs encompass a broad spectrum of initiatives within health systems. At their core, these programs leverage EHR data and digital health technology to optimize patient care. Program scope can range from automating healthcare workflows and implementing clinical guidelines and quality measures to fostering patient engagement with their care teams and treatment plans. The overarching goal, of course, is to deliver high-quality healthcare and streamline patient care workflows.

Effective digital health programs are grounded in the strategic implementation and use of EHRs and health IT. For example:

  • Digital Health_iStock-180011793-circleDelivering timely, evidence-based medicine requires EHR and other digital health technology.

It is virtually impossible to stay abreast of all the clinical guidelines that direct healthcare, especially in complex disease states such as oncology. That is why, if configured appropriately, EHRs can manage every aspect of the clinical workflow and serve up the latest treatment pathways for provider consideration. Digital health programs that leverage these EHR capabilities are routinely employed to implement the most recent clinical guidelines.

  • EHRs and other types of digital health technology streamline clinical workflows, reducing burdens for healthcare staff and barriers to treatment for the patient.

It’s a well-publicized fact that administrative and staffing burdens contribute to low employee morale and poor patient experience. Digital health programs can be implemented to decrease time-consuming clinical activities and improve patient engagement.

  • Health systems are increasingly using digital health programs to implement clinical initiatives and drug formulary decisions.

Health systems use EHR and digital health technology to implement clinical initiatives, like population health programs, and make drug formulary decisions. In the case of formulary decisions, healthcare systems must update corresponding EHR workflows and employ other forms of health IT to administer medication effectively and efficiently to appropriate patients. Our point of view is that digital health programs are now a routine part of healthcare delivery. Understanding how these programs are used is vital to understanding today’s healthcare market.

In Action: Realizing the Potential of Digital Health Initiatives

To grasp the impact of digital health initiatives, consider these real-world examples.

Transforming Patient Onboarding and Engagement

The Lehigh Valley Health Network created the Patient Partnership Model (PPM) utilizing digital health technology. The model included activities such as robust pre-visit planning and in-depth clinical triage, leading to increased access for patients and more timely clinical care. The model improved no-show rates for new patients by six percentage points, improved office throughput, and strengthened patient interest in taking charge of their own care.

Effective Type 2 Diabetes Prevention

Henry Ford Health worked with the American Medical Association to create a diabetes prevention program administered through its EHR and digital health technologies. A prediabetes registry was created using EHR data to make patient outreach and tracking easier. Patients eligible for diabetes-prevention services were enrolled and then had their bloodwork, weight, A1C, and other factors tracked over time using the health IT. Henry Ford plans to enhance the program by adding mobile patient apps and leveraging community resources and services through the identification and tracking of social determinants of health.

These examples showcase the versatility and adaptability of digital health programs in addressing various disease states through treatment or prevention. The potential benefits extend beyond specific conditions, impacting the overall quality and efficiency of healthcare delivery.

Crafting Future Care: Pharma's Role in Shaping Digital Health Landscapes

Pharmaceutical companies also have a crucial role to play in advancing digital health programs. While they don’t provide direct funding or content, their expertise can guide health systems in effectively leveraging EHR tools. These companies contribute by using the latest clinical research to craft and suggest digital health programs to health systems, aligning with their commitment to improving patient outcomes.

These companies should focus on proposing programs that simplify drug prescription and administration, making the process more accessible and efficient for both health systems and patients. The collaboration between pharmaceutical manufacturers and health systems is integral to bridging the gap between clinical research findings and practical, impactful healthcare interventions.

Tech-Savvy Healthcare: Navigating Digital Frontiers for Optimal Impact

Pharmaceutical manufacturers should take the following actions to help their customers utilize digital health programs to prescribe and administer their drugs effectively and efficiently.

  • Understand how the EHR and digital health technology is used. Digital health programs are now a routine part of healthcare delivery. It’s critical to understand the digital health capabilities of your targeted customers and how they use digital health programs in routine clinical practice. It is far easier to help health systems implement digital health programs that leverage existing technology already in routine use.
  • Map the digital health profiles in your target market. One size does not fit all when it comes to a health system’s digital health capabilities and use of digital health programs. Understanding what types of technology are already in use, effectively creating a digital health profile, can help pharmaceutical companies better assist health system customers create or optimize digital health programs, especially those that support prescribing and administering medication. Educate commercial teams to engage customers in digital health conversations.

Commercial teams need to understand digital health programs and how they are used in the market so they can engage in effective digital health discussions. Communication materials and discussion guides can help account and sales teams propose programs that meet customer needs.

Guiding the Way: POCP's Expertise in Designing and Implementing Digital Health Programs

Digital health programs may vary in complexity, from simple EHR activations to more intricate interventions requiring additional steps. Pharmaceutical companies must be able to navigate these complexities in collaboration with health systems through effective communication to address potential barriers to adoption.

Point-of-Care Partners (POCP) assists our pharmaceutical clients in understanding the EHR and digital health technologies used in healthcare. We can also map your specific target market and therapeutic area, providing a clear understanding of potential opportunities that helps develop effective digital health programs and create effective communication materials that explain the purpose and benefit of the program, as well as how to implement the program with existing technology.

Futures Envisioned: Collaborative Digital Health Programs Pioneer Better Healthcare Outcomes

The fusion of pharmaceutical expertise, innovative digital health programs grounded in strategic use of health IT, and implementation guided by organizations like POCP hold the promise of transforming healthcare outcomes. Digital health is not merely a technological innovation; it is a collaborative endeavor that empowers healthcare providers to deliver more personalized, efficient, and impactful care. As we envision the future, the collaborative spirit across pharmaceutical manufacturers, health systems and organizations like POCP will continue to pave the way for a healthcare landscape where patient outcomes are at the forefront of innovation. Reach out to me, Brian Bamberger, for help with your digital health program.