Fifteen ways to think about the value of digital and healthcare digitization

Digital Healthcare Delivery

How do you think about the value of digital?

By digital I mean implementation of a software product to improve the effectiveness of healthcare delivery, especially for the organization's customers. (For now, let's refer to any recent EHR upgrade as a foundational infrastructure capital expense.)

So: What's the value of digital (and perhaps more specifically: digitization) to the organization?

Two (more) questions:

  • What’s the value of an engaged and satisfied patient?
  • What’s the value of an engaged and satisfied physician?

In my estimation, this pair of questions is where any analysis (and investment, for that matter) should begin. Perhaps where it ends, too. As digitally native companies have demonstrated, the whole shebang has-to-be-entirely-all-about the user/customer ("customer obsession"). And the two essential customers for any provider organization: patients and physicians (+ order-writing providers). (Said another way: Too often the bureaucracy and other participants in the transaction consume organizational attention.)

Yet let's imagine we'll need a bit more to justify healthcare delivery's digital investments. How can we think about the prospective returns in terms of value created for the organization?

Here's a list, with a simple example to help me illustrate my meaning. What would you add/edit/delete? How would you organize it further?

Increase revenue.

  • Online appointment availability converts a prospective patient into an actual patient.

Decrease cost (improve profitability).

  • Patient schedules appointment digitally vs calling contact center.

Improve patient outcomes.

  • Remote patient monitoring (+ intervention) prevents a readmission.

Improve patient experience (or: meet consumer expectations).

  • Day of procedure "Here's What to Expect" vignette.

Improve physician and provider experience.

  • Decision support helps provider decide on appropriate medication.

Improve employee (including the care team) experience.

  • Fewer phone calls to a front desk because a patient was able to find an answer to a question.

Automate tasks (improve workflow).

  • Prescription refill.

Improve and expand care models.

  • Bring "light" to the "dark" period between post-op discharge and office follow-up visit.

Improve brand equity.

  • Patient manages entire relationship with healthcare organization in an app. (As a patient of a new age primary care provider ... it's pretty good ... and expected in 2022 ...)

Enhance, improve, and support operations.

  • Post-discharge outbound follow-up calls are now automated check-ins, with escalation when necessary.

Support research.

  • Moarrrr!!! data collection.

(Better) manage (and organize) care (including patient self-management).

  • Patient tracks post-discharge progress with an interactive care plan.

Compete with digitally native companies.

  • Maybe disruption will happen, or maybe it won't ... in my view, primary care patient portal activities with a digitally-native provider are improved over the stock MyChart experiences. (+ What are Apple/Google/Amazon up to?)

(Better) manage financial risk.

  • More individual patient data = more provider awareness.

Compete for physician talent.

  • Digital tools are transforming work, too—especially at digitally-native provider organizations with different business models. And an EHR built for the provider as customer, as opposed to billing efficiency, is an effective recruiting tool.

Through The Work is a talent development studio for healthcare leadership embracing The Transforming—the always-happening, always-unfolding state of change in your job ... and using it to make more of the change you know should be happening, happen.

The Transforming is the most important professional opportunity of our careers—one that will lead to new job opportunities, real change, and a transformed industry for all of us and everyone else.

My name is Drew Weilage and I work in healthcare, too. At Through The Work, I assist people like you with the skills, attitudes, and points-of-view to propel your professional success. It's personal training for a transforming world of work.

Oh, and pep talks! Get a pep talk when you need one: big day, bad day, or any day at all. Text me at 646-450-2465 or send me a note.

Through The Work Writing

Working Out Loud Blog

Ideas and inspiration on The Now of Work to fuel your thinking, learning, and creating. Get inspired.



Navigating The Transforming—the always-happening, always-unfolding state of change in your job—is the path to personal satisfaction, professional success, and real progress. Here's how to do it.

Get Organized To Get creative

Being organized is the foundation of a creative practice and creativity. Here are a series of guides to help you get organized at work. Get organized.

Learning From The (Work) Experts

Talented people have worked on similar problems to the problems we're now solving. Thankfully for us they've shared what they've learned. So let's learn from them.

(Personal) Professional Development

Your current role can be viewed as a platform to get better at the work you do and how you do the work. Your professional development is a you activity. Make it work for you.


Why we work the way we work is important to understand ... so we can create something better. Here's what's happening.