How hospitals are benefiting from digital health tools in a post-COVID era

As weak hospital margins are projected to continue into 2024 due to the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and changes in the labor market, hospital CFOs told Becker's that they are adopting digital health tools, such as remote patient monitoring.

Here's how three CFOs are approaching digital health tools:

Anthony Saul. CFO of Grady Health System (Atlanta): We have been investing in the digital catalog of services. In 2016, we rolled out remote patient monitoring for chronic heart failure patients. So, those lessons of the pandemic really helped further our commitment and expansion in adding new capabilities; having a strong digital presence is really a part of our strategic undertaking. 

We're currently investing in expanding our virtual front door through the various services that provide enhanced customer satisfaction for our patients. One of our pillars in the expansion of access that I mentioned earlier, such as having the ability to provide care anywhere and have access to clinicians for our patients at any time, is going to be a key part of diversifying, which allows us to be a little more insulated from other pandemic type events that could occur in the future.

Brett Tande. CFO of Scripps Health (San Diego): Digital platforms have undoubtedly helped us convey more timely information to our patients, and for patients to connect with their clinicians. We have not seen much positive impact, yet, on the economics from these platforms. The economic investment in digital is costly, it needs clinical oversight to ensure it performs as expected, and we have not yet found case studies where patients are willing to pay for these new care pathways. That is not to say we won't ever find those opportunities, but much of that is still on the come.

The teams at Scripps have been pursuing these technologies to understand how to lighten the load on our clinical staff and on administrative staff. We are running pilots on generative AI in the clinical setting, and we continue to evaluate opportunities to wring cost out of the administrative setting in health care, which is a target-rich environment.

It is difficult to determine which specific tactics will generate the biggest opportunity, so our strategy has been to have multiple tactics "in play" in hopes that some of them hit.

Michael Allen. CFO of OSF HealthCare (Peoria, Ill.): OSF has a very advanced digital platform. It's called OSF OnCall. We do remote patient monitoring. We have a hospital-at-home program. We have a pretty significant footprint there, particularly for the size of the health system we are. So we're pretty well down that path. It is a partial solution today and will become a complete solution as it evolves and as the market and patients catch up to it. Not everybody's on board with it or comfortable with it or uses those kinds of services.

Remote patient monitoring services and electronic visits continue to grow slowly. It's a plus and a minus on the labor market side. It allows us to onboard mission partners (OSF's term for employees) who don't live in Illinois. That also means that we're competing with labor from the entire country, not just here. We do OK competing with labor in our own market. We are a big employer and a good employer, but now our mission partners can work anywhere through remote work. They can live here and work for somebody else, and vice versa, and then we're now up against the labor market across the country. It's generally working out OK for us. If it does anything for OSF, it expands our workforce to more locations. It is a double-edged sword as well because that also means we compete with everybody across the country for that same labor.


Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars