Survey: Hospital Execs Struggle With Digital Health Acquisition Strategy

Farma Darya

Many hospitals and health systems are struggling to find, evaluate, and implement digital health solutions effectively, according to a report from Panda Health and Sage Growth Partners.

Panda and Sage surveyed 100 hospital executives in February 2022. They found that about half of hospital systems lack a formal digital health strategy, resulting in a slow and reactive procurement process. That process is hindered by the size and scope of the digital health market, which has thousands of solutions across multiple categories, the study finds.

Panda Health is a marketplace that connects buyers and sellers of digital health technologies. Through its marketplace, Panda vets and assesses digital health technologies across dozens of categories and invites those suppliers that meet its functional, technical, and service requirements to participate in the marketplace. Health systems using the Panda marketplace shop and procure the technologies that meet their needs and Panda assists with the selection, implementation, and ongoing contract management.

The Atlanta-based company was established in 2020 by founding health systems Gundersen Health System, CentraCare, ThedaCare and development partner Fitzroy Health. The company’s second round of Seed Series funding was led by Vizient and included healthcare providers Bellin Health, BJC HealthCare, Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Ochsner Health, UW Health, Yale New Haven Health and technology partner CitiusTech.

Sage Growth Partners is a consulting firm helps healthcare organizations with research, strategy, and marketing.

The survey found that more than 90 percent of hospital executives believe a strong digital health strategy is critical to improving outcomes, increasing productivity, and enhancing clinician satisfaction. Hospital executives who reported that their organization has a digital health strategy were much more likely than others to say that their organization accelerated the acquisition of digital health solutions during the pandemic, the study found.

Fifty-five percent of respondents say they receive more than 11 vendor calls and emails from digital health solution vendors per week. Nearly half say that none of this vendor outreach results in new technology acquisitions.

Ninety-five percent say it’s challenging to narrow down the list of digital health solutions to evaluate. Fewer than 25 percent say they are “very confident” that, after selecting a new digital health solution, it’s truly the best one for their unique needs.

When asked to identify the most difficult part of the evaluation process, survey respondents cited:
• Integration vetting (38%)
• Functionality comparison vetting (34%)
• Cybersecurity vetting (15%)
• Technical standards vetting (10%)
• Legal vetting (3%)

Over half of executives say it takes more than three months to finalize contracting for new solutions, and 35 percent say it takes more than half a year, the survey found.

The Panda report noted that healthcare executives who described their approach as proactive (43%) rather than reactive (57%) were much more likely to report successful use of digital health solutions to improve outcomes and satisfaction, reduce burnout and improve efficiency, and attract new patients and reduce patient leakage.

“This report shows that hospitals are struggling in their efforts to improve efficiency, patient care, and outcomes as a result of challenging and time-consuming technology procurements,” said David Harvey, CEO of Panda Health, in a statement. “It can take hospitals up to one year or longer to find and contract for new solutions, and even after implementing them, many question if they selected the best technology for their unique needs. Healthcare organizations need a more streamlined process, so they can confidently move faster and drive better outcomes.”

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