More on Operations

Most healthcare providers are behind the curve when it comes to digital health transformation, survey finds

Challenges include clinician resistance to adopting new solutions and difficulties integrating legacy systems with new digital tech.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Nearly two-thirds of healthcare providers rate themselves as being behind the curve on their digital health initiatives, citing clinician resistance and interoperability of legacy systems with digital and mobile technologies as the top barriers, according to new research from Unisys Corporation.

On behalf of Unisys, HIMSS surveyed 220 IT decision makers/influencers at U.S. hospitals and health systems and asked them to rank their organization based on how they are leveraging digital and mobile technologies to improve the patient experience, lower the cost of care delivery and improve clinician and staff efficiencies.

They were then rated as being ahead of the curve (early adopters/early majority) or behind the curve (late majority/laggards). Of those surveyed, 64 percent rated themselves as being behind the curve, including 20 percent who were rated as laggards.

Notably, only 11 percent of organizations were rated as early adopters when it came to adoption and implementation of digital technologies.


When asked about the barriers to advancing digital health initiatives, "behind the curve" respondents cited challenges starting with clinician resistance to adopting new solutions (51 percent) and difficulties integrating legacy systems with new digital/mobile technologies (50 percent).

Availability of skilled IT staff (48 percent) and the identification/remediation of cybersecurity threats (45 percent) were also highly cited as challenges.

The survey also looked at the key initiatives that digital health technologies support. Only 16 percent of laggards had a comprehensive data governance plan, and only nine percent of laggards said their organization was able to successfully apply data to determine the best course of action, compared to 83 percent and 78 percent of early adopters, respectively.

On top of that, just 13 percent of laggards said that their medical devices could securely communicate with electronic health records.


In January, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts added two new digital health programs to its emerging solutions portfolio: Hinge Health, a preventive pain management program that helps adults manage chronic back and joint pain; and Robin Care, which provides support for cancer care.

Both insurers and their group plan customers have become more focused on preventative health and wellbeing programs, using digital health initiatives to facilitate their goal.

Twitter: @JELagasse

Email the writer: