August 11, 2020

By Gerry Lewis
Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Ascension

Well before COVID-19, Ascension began a journey of digital transformation to enhance the user experience for physicians, other caregivers and patients alike. Patients expect a seamless, digital, and now “contactless” consumer experience, and it’s incumbent on health systems to meet their changing needs and expectations. The pandemic has validated and accelerated what we had already come to know: With consumer expectations changing toward an emphasis on convenience and safety, the way we approach technology has to adapt as well.

We also recognize that applying more of the same technology wouldn’t prove a worthy solution. To truly enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of our providers, improve healthcare quality and safety, and transform the experience of those whom we serve, our strategy must involve applying new technologies in innovative and imaginative ways.

Modernizing the healthcare industry is critically important, with the ultimate result not just digital transformation for transformation's sake, but rather to improve patient experience and patient outcomes, and ultimately save lives. After all, that is what our healing ministry is called to do, with those who went before us forging an ongoing path of transformation. To achieve this, we began to change the way we deliver our services to achieve greater flexibility, reliability and scalability across our solutions and our sites of care.

Last year, in a series of blog posts and other publications, we announced several areas of focus for our transformational work. From the creation of “digital studios” in three prominent locations, to investing in data science, to delivering new capabilities, we have already begun to help consumers manage their health differently and support clinicians returning to their calling as healers. The synergy of these efforts will continue to help patients access care more readily and less expensively and further improve the health of our communities.

As part of this transformation to drive innovation and enhance capabilities to meet the healthcare needs and expectations of our communities, like other healthcare organizations we have begun shifting some of our technology functions to third-party partners who specialize in these services. And as this work shifts, it means some changes to our workforce. These transitions will enable us to design, deliver and innovate the best end-to-end customer and clinician experience, using best practices and industry standards, while being good stewards of our resources. Throughout this process, we will always work to support affected employees with placement in new opportunities, retraining and other services.

At the end of the day, our goal remains simple and unchanged: We want to improve care for individuals and communities, particularly those who are poor and vulnerable; and we want to build a strong, vibrant health ministry, which will lead to the transformation of healthcare. We believe our digital journey is an important step in the right direction.