we look to the future and start down the path of digital transformation, we know it’s essential to have a plan. The University of Utah Health Strategy 2025 outlines our goals:
Together as One U, we serve communities and the region, advance equity, diversity, and inclusion, lead education and discovery, and innovate care accountable for outcomes.
Innovating care—along with those four other key goals—is at the forefront of what we are doing. As we looked at a “strategy refresh” following 2021 and all the challenges that the two prior years brought with the COVID pandemic, we started with the directed steps. There are about 60 total directed steps in the strategic plan, and within that are 22 that have a digital enablement aspect.
Our digital roadmap began by meeting with the owners of all 22 directed steps that have an IT component. We had to listen to what they are trying to accomplish to make sure we can meet those needs.
2025 directed steps: Outlining our digital roadmap
As we got into discussions and planning, we saw seven main “themes” emerge:
Expand virtual care: For health care providers to thrive in the future, it’s not enough to just offer virtual care. We need to expand it, optimize it, and create a virtual care environment that can grow as patients’ needs change.
Ease access to health care: Digital access to health care goes beyond having a website or a patient portal. We need to make sure everyone can get through the “digital front door” (and the side door, and the back door) of our system to find U of U Health care and resources.
Examine regional delivery and community partnerships: Expanding our geographic reach is part of U of U Health’s overall strategy, which includes improving digital capabilities for patients in areas where there may not be widespread access to high-quality broadband.
Manage chronic disease: Chronic diseases are a key driver of high health care costs, and the leading cause of preventable premature death in the U.S. Digital tools can connect patients with chronic disease to their health care team to monitor and improve outcomes.
Define exceptional patient experiences: IT has a key role to play in creating a patient-centered health care environment with appropriate self-serve access.
Establish research and innovation partnerships: The digital health care landscape is rapidly advancing, and as an academic medical center we can help lead the way in emerging technologies.
Define our digital structure and strategy: How can we make sure our IT department is meeting the needs of our patients and providers today, and preparing for what’s coming in the future?
Prioritize our digital next steps
Now, if all 22 directed step owners came to us at the same time and asked for help, we would not have the bandwidth and resources to get it done. We had to understand how digital enablement fit into each step and prioritize our resources to meet everyone’s needs. To do that we first categorized each of the steps into:
Bridge-to-consumer: Technologies, applications, and capabilities that increase patient access and convenience. For example, virtual care offerings and self-service access tools would be in this category.
Bridge-to-marketplace: Technologies, tools, and applications that help U of U Health expand our geographic and community outreach, and improve our research innovation and industry partnerships.
Next, we looked at the foundational infrastructure in place to determine what we need to build or acquire to meet both types of bridges. We didn’t have cloud architecture and services available yet, and I knew we couldn’t build bridges without having a solid foundation first.
As we got farther into this process, the 22 directed steps actually expanded. In our one-on-one meetings with directed step owners, we discovered that there were additional steps that would require IT and digital enablement that we didn’t realize at first.
When strategies align
To succeed in a new digital world, health care organizations must have a digital transformation strategy and plan that aligns with the overall organizational strategy and vision. That requires:
Listening to stakeholders who can share their own unique needs, and their vision of how digital tools can transform various aspects of care delivery.
Building the foundational infrastructure required to meet the goals of the organization as a whole, as well as the departments and providers within U of U Health.
Prioritizing and streamlining our own resources through a Digital Enablement Committee (DEC) that understands the broad organizational goals and our IT goals, and can align the two strategies for optimal outcomes.
This is how we’re moving U of U Health into the digital future.