4 Reasons Hospitals’ Tech Investments Can Go Awry


As CEO of Avia, Linda Finkel has years of experience helping health systems navigate the digital transformation process. Her company, based in Chicago, provides consulting services to more than 50 health systems across the country — including Providence, Mass General Brigham, Geisinger and Henry Ford Health — with the aim of helping them achieve faster and more impactful success with their technology initiatives. 

During her tenure at Avia, Finkel has had many conversations with health systems executives about why their technology initiatives haven’t gone as planned. Based on these conversations, she believes there are four main reasons hospitals don’t see the results for which they were hoping, she said last week during an interview at ViVE, a healthcare innovation conference in Nashville. 

  1. Not enough scrutiny in the solution selection process

    The healthcare technology market is crowded with vendors, so it can be difficult for health systems to evaluate which solution is best for their enterprise. It’s not uncommon for health systems to make the mistake of not looking at the landscape fully enough or failing to create a list of criteria they need a company to meet, Finkel said.

    Karen Murphy, Geisinger’s chief innovation and digital officer, chimed in during the joint interview to back up Finkel’s comments. She said that partnering with Avia to do market scans has helped her health system better understand which products on the market are best-suited to solve the specific problems and pain points that Geisinger faces.Murphy added that these collaborative market scans have also helped her health system gain a better understanding of the startup world. This is because Geisinger works together with Avia to analyze whether a startup is actually equipped with the technology expertise and business fundamentals to deliver on its promises.
  2. Failure to accurately assess the health system’s prerequisites for successSometimes health systems fail to exercise due diligence by not having a realistic view of their organizations’ existing business and technology infrastructure, Finkel pointed out.For example, some technologies require regular updates that can be quite expensive, and health systems don’t always accurately evaluate whether they will have the cash on hand to complete these required modernizations year after year. And some digital tools require specific hardware or software in order to be effective, so hospitals should make sure they have a practical and complete view of their infrastructure, Finkel explained.
  3. Not thinking about capability at scale  When introducing a new technology, some health systems focus solely on the initial pilot phase without much consideration about what a full-scale implementation would look like, Finkel pointed out.“I think over time, this has proven to be where some systems go awry. They understand the economics in the early pilot, but they haven’t thought about whether that’s a really viable option scaled across their organization,” she said.
  4. Implementation without aligning stakeholders
    In other cases, health systems can fall into a trap where their innovation team or digital team is operating in a silo and making decisions about new technology without direct involvement from the clinicians who will end up using the solutions. But if a technology doesn’t seamlessly fit into a clinician’s existing workflow, they are unlikely to use it.

    Finkel said that health systems have been “doing a much better job of aligning their stakeholders” in recent years, as many had seen their investment go to waste when they made the mistake of not doing so in the past.

    The crisis of the pandemic, along with hospitals’ dwindling operational margins, has forced health systems across the country to look for ways to reduce costs and become more efficient. This has led them to prioritize digital transformation and put new tools to work, but choosing the wrong technology to adopt is an expensive mistake that most hospitals can’t afford.

Photo: metamorworks, Getty Images


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