Key Takeaways

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Over half of the nation’s healthcare providers see technology among their top three priorities in 2024. Furthermore, two-thirds of them plan on significantly increasing their spending on innovation over the next year.

But with so many solutions hitting the market, how can leaders understand which ones to invest in? And, furthermore, how do they know solutions will produce their desired outcomes?

In this episode of the Memora Health Care Delivery Podcast, our guest Mark Townsend, MD, MHCM, Chief Clinical Innovation Officer at Bon Secours Mercy Health and Accrete Health Partners, discusses what makes an effective healthcare technology, why choosing the right healthtech developer is the key to success, and how his organization is thinking about AI.

Technology must be patient-centered to improve care journeys

With nine in 10 healthcare leaders planning to continue investments in digital technology staff in 2024, there’s no question interest in healthtech innovation is only accelerating. However, Dr. Townsend suggests, effective solutions must be fundamentally rooted in the patient experience to make a positive impact. 

He says, “Following the patient care journey, and using that as the guiding light for how we then wrap care around patients in their time of need from a technological perspective … really [supports] the fact that human beings can have their patient care journey made better by technology.”

But just as grounding healthcare technology development in the patient experience can help improve outcomes, falling short of doing so can create more issues. Dr. Townsend adds, “[The patient care journey] can be made horribly worse by failures of technology, or it can be anything other than pleasing by virtue of the fact that you're forced to interact with technology.”

Understanding how patients prefer to communicate — and be communicated with — is essential for ensuring deployed technologies don’t add to the operational friction so often encountered in healthcare.

Choosing the right digital health partner is key for effective innovation

Managing efficient in-house IT projects can be challenging for even the most seasoned healthcare leaders. In fact, around 70% of hospital-led technology initiatives either fail or face significant obstacles

The secret to ensuring successful development, Dr. Townsend proposes, lies in partnering with the right digital health partner that combines vision with execution. He remarks, “For every good idea I have, 10 other people have had the same idea already. And chances are one of them has already commercialized it.”

But choosing ideal technology vendors isn’t just about making innovative initiatives come to fruition. It’s also about rolling out needed solutions as quickly as possible to rapidly address challenges. Dr. Townsend explains, “Innovation equals speed. The two are synonymous. If you can't do something quickly, someone else will have already done it. That's the space we're living in. And if you want to protect intellectual property, then you better implement it yesterday.”

Memora Health collaborates closely with leading providers to customize, pilot, and fully implement service line-specific Care Programs. Our intelligent care enablement platform is specifically designed for scale, as well as both providers and patients managing care journeys. 

Ready to see how intelligent care enablement works? Download our report.

AI in healthcare has the potential to transform workflows

If there’s one technocultural leap that defined healthcare in 2023, it was the broad shift of perceiving AI as threatening to potentially helpful. One standout area where intelligent technology can make the biggest difference? Clinical workflows.

Remarking on priority technology investments at Bon Secours Mercy Health, Dr. Townsend says, “We recognize that AI is a hot topic and we've got to fully engage. That's where we're spending a lot of time.”

Specifically, Dr. Townsend proposes AI and other innovative technologies can help simplify and improve operations across care. He explains, “We've got to empower our people to be able to fully engage with ambient listening, for example, making their lives better as they're doing clinical documentation — both in the ambulatory space and the acute care space.”

He adds that the benefits of advancing workflows in healthcare can extend across different levels of the organization, saying, “We've got to improve our nursing workflows. They need to benefit from ambient listening, as well. Not just the physicians. They are our largest clinical workforce. And how do we empower anything from staffing to then the administrative tasks of nursing?” 

Making smart digital health decisions has significant ramifications across the healthcare enterprise. These choices can enhance provider workflows, allowing care teams to focus more on patient care and less on data input. They can empower patients to feel more confident in self-managing their health. And, ultimately, they can help create a more sustainable, effective healthcare system at large. By putting the patient at the center of healthtech development, partnering with ideal innovators, and considering how solutions will affect operations at multiple levels, leaders can ensure their technologies meet the holistic needs of their organizations.