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How Geisiner made governance a key to its digital transformation

In early 2020, Geisinger Health launched a multi-year digital transformation program to transform patient and caregiver experiences, which sought to harness best-in-class technology solutions and innovation from the digital health ecosystem, and also envisioned the transformation of IT infrastructure to support digital health experiences.

When the pandemic struck in early 2020, Geisinger’s leadership reaffirmed their commitment to the digital transformation road map and the strategic technology investments required to accelerate the transformation.

To implement the road map, Geisinger established a Digital Transformation Office to oversee the implementation of the road map, provide centralized governance, and enable technology partner selection for key aspects of the proposed road map.

With broad cross-functional involvement and collaboration, the DTO was able to accelerate the transformation journey, improve digital engagement, and deliver millions of dollars in benefits.

“Governance models are evolving in healthcare organizations and there isn’t a single model that fits all organizations,” said Paddy Padmanabhan, CEO of Damo Consulting.

Padmanabhan, who will address the topic of digital transformation in healthcare this week at HIMSS, pointed out governance is probably the most critical aspect of digital transformation.

“One thing that does help is to establish a digital function that has centralized oversight for digital health programs at an enterprise level,” he said. “One way to do that is to establish a digital transformation office with a clear mandate, a set of resources and a budget.”

He noted that since digital transformation programs require much coordination among solution providers, business stakeholders and internal IT, the centralized approach helps to keep the multiple initiatives in sync and moving forward in lockstep.

The front end aspects of digital transformation are often categorized as “digital front doors” which is a catch-all term that includes everything from telehealth for virtual visits to a range of digital engagement tools for improving access to care.

Padmanabhan said this may also include the marketing function as it relates to digital engagement campaigns.

“There is a large and growing landscape of solutions that address the many aspects of digital front doors today,” he said. “The challenge for healthcare enterprises, especially health systems, is to make decisions about when to use native features in EHR systems and when to look outside for best-in-class or innovative new solutions.”

At the back end, this means having the right integration tools and governance in place, having a robust and scalable infrastructure to support the deployment of these solutions, and finally a data management and advanced analytics function to generate insights to drive digital health programs.

Padmanabhan explained the technologies and platforms that are emerging as key enablers for transformation include telehealth, CRM, conversational interfaces (e.g. voice, chatbots), automation, cloud and AI, to name just a few.

“Digital health leaders who are looking to drive change across the enterprise must start with developing an enterprise roadmap – one that looks at a three to five year horizon and identifies key priorities and a business case for the required investments,” he said.

The roadmap exercise must include stakeholders from across functions and groups so that everyone has a voice in the investment decisions and are fully on board with the decisions. Finally, digital transformation leaders must ensure readiness from a resource and funding standpoint to support large-scale transformation efforts.

“This means staffing up the digital function with a mix of clinical, technical, and project management skills to work with partners and internal groups to ensure that the initiatives get the support required for success,” he said.

Paddy Padmanabhan will share more alongside Geisinger Chief Innovation Officer Karen Murphy, RN, in a session titled “Enterprise Digital Transformation.” It’s scheduled for Tuesday, August 10, from 1-2 p.m. in Caesars Alliance 315 at Caesars.

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.
Email the writer: [email protected]
Twitter: @dropdeaded209

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