BJC HealthCare's experience-based strategy for digital transformation: Insights from CIO Jerry Fox

The information technology team at St. Louis-based BJC HealthCare enabled several changes for keeping caregivers and patients safe over the past several months. Now, the team remains focused on digital solutions that deliver value and frictionless experiences to patients, families and caregivers.

BJC HealthCare has developed an experience-based strategy for developing digital capabilities that enhance stakeholder care journeys. Through its strategy, BJC Healthcare, with its partner Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM), seeks to transform user experiences across four domains:

• Consumer digital utilities, which cover experience regardless of clinical condition including telehealth, scheduling and core utilities for interacting with patients and processing payments.

• Consumer clinical experiences, which cover end-to-end care experiences aligned with specific clinical conditions. This area focuses on the patient experience whether it's for a single episode of care, longer care such as for expectant mothers or patients with chronic conditions.

• Clinical caregiver experiences, which cover the clinician's experience and enable quality and efficiency by digitally enhancing workflows and eliminating friction for clinicians in the delivery of care.

• Non-clinical caregiver experience, encompassing support across front, middle and back office functions and enhancing productivity of staff to improve experience and value in the delivery of care.

Here, Senior Vice President and CIO of BJC HealthCare Jerry Fox details how the health system's strategy is innovating today for stable operations in the future.

As Covid-19 cases began to grow, BJC HealthCare and WUSM accelerated virtual visits and, after the initial roll-out of expanded telehealth capabilities, the IT team began focusing on other elements of the consumer interaction. The team worked through the most effective ways for patients to communicate with their clinicians, either through texts or video interactions, and then how to move them safely onsite when an in-person visit is needed.

"The expansion of virtual capabilities forced us to also work up our core disciplines for scheduling appointments," Mr. Fox said. "We also engaged technology for new methods of connecting patients with their families, especially in facilities where the patients may not be able to have their family members visit. We’ve been forced to swiftly act in a changing climate. It has changed experiences for many and technology is at the center of it all."

The health system also rapidly deployed remote patient monitoring and interaction capabilities so that once discharged, patients can return home and maintain care during their recovery. Technology is also at the center of the health system's remote patient monitoring initiatives.

Patient experience is increasingly important as patients take more control over their healthcare delivery decisions. While patients were in stay-at-home orders during the pandemic, they became savvy at connecting with healthcare providers digitally and now expect an easy and efficient digital experience from their physicians and hospital.

"Consumer (and patient) clinical experiences will be on fire for a while because while our consumer’s lives are changing, their expectations are changing," Mr. Fox said. "We have created an environment where consumers don't have to leave their homes to receive care for certain conditions. Assuming continued legislative support for telehealth solutions, we will definitely see evolving needs here."

The digital teams will continue to focus efforts towards making sure that technology doesn't interfere with the clinicians' ability to connect with patients or the efficiency of care. Technology teams will need to provision clinicians appropriately to interact with technology in the way consumers want to interact while making the care experience safe, accurate and more efficient.

" We will continue to invest in the consumer clinical journey," Mr. Fox said. "We assess everything with an experience perspective, thinking about it as an end-to-end experience and not as technologies or platforms. We want to build a frictionless experience supported by technology."

Leveraging data and making it visible to the right people at the right time will have a big impact on how the patient experiences healthcare. The evolution of big data, analytics and predictive analytics both clinically and on the consumer-side will help curate better outcomes and satisfaction. "Everyday consumer transactions have molded expectations for healthcare experiences; they expect you to know things about them," Mr. Fox said. "We are thinking about how technology can personalize the patient experience and we will continue to grow in that area."

There are exciting innovations boosting opportunities for enhancing clinical and non-clinical caregiver experiences. The proliferation of network attached sensors provides opportunities to automate several processes that were once a burden on the workforce. BJC is examining different ways to leverage technology to assess workloads and workforce fatigue and adjust accordingly.

"We see opportunities to leverage technology to identify activities of high stress levels so we can take action," Mr. Fox said. "We leverage our innovation lab to explore these opportunities. Another is utilizing speech technology to drive efficiencies in how we manage and maintain supplies."

BJC is also using predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to create a better workforce experience. "One thing that is really evolving for us as a system is to, from an operating standpoint, create an integrated technology organization that introduces products to our employees and patients that drive real value," Mr. Fox said. "We are establishing a product management model for the IT organization that integrates with our clinical and non-clinical operations. This is digital transformation. Platforms and technology are core IT, but the integrated technology organization delivers value through products and experiences."


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