It’s no secret that the healthcare industry is in the midst of a rapid transformation. A mobile patient base is demanding better data, transparency, and tools to make care decisions, while health exchanges and higher deductibles are elevating the importance of value-based outcomes for patients and providers. And then there are the ever-present concerns of HIPAA compliance and cost-cutting pressure.

When healthcare executives are asked, “What keeps you up at night?” there is no shortage of possibilities.

We couldn’t think of a better time to tackle these challenges – having just kicked off 2016. The new year presents new opportunities for innovation and investment, all in the service of improving patient care.

What’s on the docket for 2016? Key mandates for healthcare organizations include:

  • Protecting patient privacy
  • Improving patient satisfaction with digital connectivity
  • Developing large scale cost-reduction strategies
  • Facilitating collaboration and care coordination

Executing on these strategies will require healthcare organizations to accelerate their digital initiatives. A recent study on digital transformation by industry ranks healthcare providers a 4.67 on the digital maturity index – in the bottom half – meaning that the industry is lagging on its journey to fully embrace digital operations.

Let’s take a closer look at healthcare’s 2016 mandates, with an eye towards how to turn challenges into opportunities through a sound digital strategy.

Protecting patient privacy

The challenge: Privacy and security of medical information continue to be paramount for patients and providers. A series of recent data breaches have only exacerbated these fears. 76% of consumers surveyed said they were concerned about the security of their medical data and 65% said data security was more important than convenient access to test results, doctor’s notes, diagnoses and prescriptions.

The opportunity: Safeguarding patient data is critical especially as the industry deepens investment in tools like portals and apps that make use of protected health information. What is often lost in the midst of data breaches are the lessons one can learn from them:

  • Apply a high level of scrutiny to business associates who may process PHI and ensure you choose vendors who take security as seriously as you do
  • Look for a digital solution that offers full document encryption, anti-tamper controls, and authentication options to mitigate cyber security risks
  • Recognize that digital workflows and approvals carry protections and efficiencies that printing, scanning and faxing do not, such as a comprehensive, time-stamped, digital audit trail showing who authenticated, accessed and completed a document

Improving patient satisfaction with digital connectivity

The challenge: Six million young adults have gained healthcare coverage in the last two years. These cost-conscious, tech-savvy millennials are shopping for care: researching metrics, checking reviews on social media and comparing provider prices to find the best deal. And they are more likely than the general population to challenge medical bills and make value-based decisions. Capturing this new and important segment depends on your ability to provide these patients with personalized experiences, price transparency and flexibility.

The opportunity: Going digital empowers healthcare providers to offer better service to meet the high expectations of this new patient population. In fact, 93% of healthcare executives believe that a smart digital strategy will help them improve the patient experience. How?

  • Transition to electronic forms to simplify the patient onboarding process
  • Collect patient information online or via mobile apps to give patients flexibility in completing important documentation – this also allows physicians to review a patient’s medical history, symptoms, and other details prior to an appointment, thus improving quality of care and patient-physician interactions
  • Use digital workflows to provide timely, transparent billing and payment options, helping patients of all ages better understand their financial responsibilities while improving revenue and cash flow management

Developing large scale cost-reduction strategies 

The challenge: Undoubtedly, cost-cutting pressures are still top-of-mind for healthcare industry executives, fueled by CMS mandates, increasing regulations and personnel shortages. The industry has renewed its focus on population health management as organizations search for innovative ways to care for the nation’s most expensive patients in a cost-effective manner.

In addition, providers must demonstrate meaningful use of electronic health records (EHR) in order to be eligible for financial incentives offered by Medicare and Medicaid. U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) revealed that more than 257,000 eligible professional providers who are not complying with Meaningful Use mandates to operate certified EHR technology will have their Medicare Fee Schedule cut by one percent.

The opportunity: Advance cost reduction strategies by transitioning to a digital enterprise:

  • Improve data sharing and collaboration among providers, patients, payers and support staff – allowing care to happen in lower cost settings like retail clinics and through new channels like telemedicine
  • Realize immediate ROI by eliminating hard-dollar and time-related costs affiliated with printing, scanning, faxing and overnighting documents
  • Reduce legal and audit fees through a secure, searchable digital repository that allows you to easily find important documentation like physician contracts

Digital approvals, workflows and signatures offer significant opportunities to reduce costs. Here are just a few healthcare use cases to consider on your digital journey:

  • Physician credentialing
  • Provider agreements
  • New patient forms
  • HIPAA training and compliance documentation
  • GPO contracts

DocuSign has experience working with more than 100 hospitals and more than 100,000 customers. We have leveraged this deep industry experience to create a guide that can help your healthcare organization accelerate its transition to a digital enterprise. In developing this digital playbook, DocuSign reviewed well-known healthcare use cases across five categories:

  • Notify
  • Acknowledge
  • Approve
  • Collect data
  • Sign

These digital use cases range from business associate agreements to medical record updates, consent forms, ePrescriptions, and everything in between. We rank each use case on its potential ROI and implementation speed and highlight the top five use cases.

Click here to access this helpful tool and jump-start your digital strategy.