The following is the story of a health system that has embarked on a massive reconstruction of its infrastructure, the aim of which is to become “the Amazon Prime of healthcare in South Florida.” While this may be a rather ambitious goal for even a well-funded and intelligently-managed hospital – and the entity you’re about to meet certainly is that – there’s no reason not to set the bar high.
Baptist Health South Florida, the health system in question, has had a leading position in its market for many years, not necessarily by innovating but certainly by being shrewd. (I covered healthcare for a South Florida newspaper in the early 90s and followed Baptist closely, so I know whereof I speak.)
Cleary, however, Baptist’s leadership is willing to roll with the times. Its CEO, Brian Keeley, recently told local newspaper Miami Today that it plans to spend more than $100 million on a massive IT effort which should put it at the forefront of digital health transformation efforts in healthcare. “We can either lead or follow, and we decided we were going to lead this thing,” Keeley told the publication.
The project involves building a digital infrastructure that will encompass the entire continuum of patient care within and across the Baptist network, which includes centers in Latin America and properties spread across the southern tip of Florida.
The hospital network already has a presence in digital health. In 2016, Baptist launched its Care on Demand telemedicine platform, an app-based service developed by telehealth vendor Amwell and rebranded by Baptist. Care on Demand offers access to standard services such as 24-hour urgent care and behavioral care, along with more specialized options such as post-surgical reviews, cancer symptom management, and neonatal management for mothers at prices starting at $59 per visit.
However, the new infrastructure ups the ante dramatically. Rather than passively waiting for patients to interact with their providers, Baptist will move the patient through what it calls a “work path” from the moment they feel symptoms. It will guide them as they visit Baptist’s website, schedule an appointment, use wayfinding to get to a doctor’s office, register using a touchless interface and receive clinical care. The digital infrastructure will also manage post-appointment follow-ups, prescriptions and billing.
To support this new process, Baptist is rolling out a Cerner scheduling and registration system across its hospitals over the next year. It’s also making investing heavily in its next-gen website, which it intends to be as intuitive, responsive and attractive as the Amazon mothership.
In addition to building out its front-end patient management capabilities, Baptist is beefing up its big data analytics muscles. It already has significant data analytics capabilities under its belt, which it developed for use by its Miami Cancer Institute, but it now plans to build out similar tools for other specialist centers within its system.
All in all, this project would be a big deal for any institution, given both the cost and the substantial changes it will make to basic processes within the organization. That being said, I’d argue that digital transformation projects are becoming more of a must-have for hospitals that want to keep up these days. I’m betting that in 10 years, Baptist executives will consider their $100 million to have been well spent.