march madness digital health

What March Madness Can Teach Us About Digital Health

By Ryan Bengtson, COO and President

Like millions of Americans, I’m a huge fan of March Madness. Every year I fill out several brackets, watch as many games as I can, and cheer on my favorite teams while hoping that I picked the right upsets. As both the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments head into their final weekends, I’ve noticed there are several similarities between my experiences with March Madness and those within digital health. 

No Shortage of Opinions 

For starters, there is no shortage of ‘expert’ opinions to choose from. As you look to fill out your bracket, there are literally hundreds of basketball experts – former coaches and players, sportscasters, media personalities, and rabid fans with Tik Tok accounts – that can all help you choose the perfect bracket. Everywhere you look, someone has some ‘inside information’.  

You can find just as many opinions as you look for guidance on your digital health journey – where should you start, should you use best-of-breed solutions or a platform, which outcomes should you prioritize, should you build or buy. The problem is that many of these opinions conflict and can simply add to the noise. Furthermore, none of these experts have the full story. They each have their own methodologies or perspectives, but that doesn’t mean they are the right ones for you. Instead, you need to take a community approach. You learn a little bit from each of several different trusted sources and combine that with our own experiences and knowledge to come up with the right decisions for you. 

What You Don’t See Matters 

Second, it’s important to be aware that what you don’t see can matter more than what you do see. In basketball, it isn’t enough to simply have the most talented players. What allows a team to succeed comes from what happens long before they step onto the court. It’s developed out of hundreds of hours of practice and physical conditioning. It comes from watching film, developing a gameplan, and preparing for your opponent.  

For digital health companies, success begins with the company culture and the passion they put into building effective solutions. It comes from the design and engineering that goes into building a product that not only works, but does so in a reliable and secure manner, ensuring that hospital and patient data is protected. And it comes from the quality of their customer service and their desire to establish a long-term, trusted relationship with their customers. When selecting the right partners for your organization, make sure you’re looking at the company as much as you’re looking at their products. 

The Best Don’t Always Win 

Finally, what makes the tournament so exciting is that the ‘best’ don’t always win. Over the course of a 30+ game season, you get a pretty good idea of which teams are the top performers. You have not only their win-loss records, but a virtually unlimited number of stats and metrics like shooting percentages, offensive and defensive efficiency, or rebounding along with advanced ranking algorithms like Net and KenPom.  

When selecting a digital health solution, we can also look at metrics like number of installs, cost per user, and ROI along with various third-party solution rankings and certifications. These are all critically important inputs, but ultimately success will come down to factors that are much more difficult to measure: Coaching – are staff and leadership aligned on the plan and objectives, Matchups – do these solutions complement or detract from your existing technical infrastructure and workflow, and Execution – how well did you manage the implementation and integration process. Success is more than picking ‘the best’ solution. 

Just like there has never been a perfect bracket, there isn’t likely to be a perfect solution for your needs. But, if you can apply some of these lessons from March Madness to your next technology selection, your path to success will be much easier. To learn how Panda Health provides this insight to our community of health systems, start here. In the meantime, enjoy the tournaments, and if you somehow defied the odds and have a bracket that could still win, congratulations and best of luck!  

What have I missed? Join the discussion and let me know what other lessons you think we can learn from March Madness…