Employees Report Health IT Frustration Amidst Digital Transformation

As the digital health transformation continues, 37 percent of employees report frustration with health IT and 28 percent report inadequate training.

While the digital health transformation progresses, many healthcare employees report frustration with health IT adoption, according to new research from Eagle Hill Consulting.

The 2021 Eagle Hill Consulting Healthcare Employees Experience Survey gathered insight from a random sample of 505 healthcare industry employees across the country.

The researchers found high levels of frustration associated with health IT; 37 percent of healthcare employees reported frustration with technology at work. What’s more, almost one in five (19 percent) employees said that technology does not aid their productivity level at work. 

The survey also revealed that many healthcare employees feel technologically behind at work; 28 percent of respondents said they did not receive adequate health IT training and 25 percent reported that they lack the skills to succeed in an increasingly technological workplace.

These findings come as some healthcare organizations make large health IT investments to boost interoperability for care coordination and cost savings.

"In today's tech-driven society, providers and healthcare organizations simply cannot serve patients well when there are significant gaps in employees' technology experience," Sridhar Karimanal, Health & Life Sciences Industry Lead at Eagle Hill Consulting, said in a press release. "It's almost impossible to fully engage the healthcare workforce in delivering better patient outcomes when technology is a hinderance rather than a help.”

"The value of healthcare technology hinges on employees adopting and embracing it in their daily responsibilities,” Karimanal continued. “Technology change is all about fundamentally changing employees' ingrained behaviors that result in better patient care while also driving cost savings,"

The survey also revealed signs of professional burnout at the hands of health IT. Forty-two percent of respondents reported that technology either makes work harder or does nothing to enable them to be happy in their job. Another 26 percent of healthcare workers indicated that health IT either does not help them or makes it harder to serve customers.

"What we are seeing is that even though technology adoption methods—such as patient-centricity, usability, human factors, training, and communication—are well-understood conceptually and have been used for years, healthcare providers find it challenging to implement these methods in a practical manner," explained Karimanal.

"This is especially difficult for organizations with legacy technology infrastructures, organizational silos, and decentralized operations,” he added. “As a result, technology change initiatives are often an isolated, temporary, and disconnected series of events and the bigger picture objectives of achieving successful transformation and healthcare technology change adoption can be missed."

First, healthcare organizations can address this by recognizing that technology is pervasive, the consulting firm noted.

“Technology should be viewed as a relationship that IT does not fully own,” the authors wrote. “It is important to adopt a cross-functional approach to change that integrates business, technology, and the people using it. This means creating a culture of pervasive technology integrated into business operations and human interactions.”

Next, the report calls for healthcare stakeholders to ensure business leaders are on board with the organization’s digital health transformation agenda.

“Technology change is the responsibility of respective business leaders, not just technology or information leaders,” they wrote. “The workforce outside of IT must "own" their relationship with technology.”

The firm also emphasized the importance of creating continuous feedback loops to shape user experience.

“The end-users, supervisors, and impacted teams must be engaged and knowledgeable about adoption of new technology solutions,” the report authors noted. “Organizations should incorporate end-user inputs and feedback to identify ways in which technology would be most helpful to improve productivity and enhance experience.”

Additionally, the report suggested that care organizations reward employees who are cross-team collaborators, connectors, and educators to encourage technology adoption throughout the workplace. 

Lastly, the firm called for leaders to fully understand the way health IT initiatives impact everyday activities for employees as well as how it aligns to their organizational purpose and strategy.

“This way, the big functional pictures do not get lost in the short-term milestones and tactical activities it is important to know the alignment to the broader organizational strategy and purpose,” the report authors wrote.

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