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The Official Baldrige Blog

Inspired by Baldrige Concepts, Digital Health Transformations Possible through “Most Wired” Analytics

Three CHIME staff holder up images of the CHIME Digitial Health Most Wired Survey 2022.

HCI Group, a top-level recipient of the 2022 Digital Health Most Wired recognition. Other recipients can be found at

Credit: CHIME

For 20 years, the Most Wired Survey, which assesses the digital achievements of health care entities, was managed through a successful partnership with the American Hospital Association and College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME).

But, about five years ago, CHIME decided to rebuild the survey inspired by core concepts of the Baldrige Excellence Framework®—benchmarking, performance excellence, continuous improvement, scoring bands—with the key concept of helping organizations measure their performance. The survey now aims to deliver even more data insights to health care entities through the survey tool and an online analytics portal.

“As success in digital health increasingly determines the quality of patient care, the scope of the CHIME Digital Health Most Wired Survey reflects the progress of leading health care providers as they reinvent health care for a new century,” said Calli Dretke, vice president and chief digital and marketing officer of CHIME.

Photo of Russell P. Branzell, Board of Overseers, Baldrige Program
Russell P. Branzell, CHIME, CHIME Education Foundation, CHIME Foundation, Baldrige Board of Overseers, 2015, Baldrige Foundation Board of Directors, 2023

Russ Branzell, CEO and president of CHIME, the CHIME Education Foundation, and CHIME Foundation, said, “We looked at this opportunity and considered all the immensely valuable programs available in the market. But we needed more than just a valuable program. We needed a change agent. CHIME wanted to structure this program with a framework that drove performance excellence and improvement versus just recognition. That’s exactly what the Baldrige methodology is all about.” From Baldrige, he added, “we took the things structurally that allowed for a good framework for performance excellence.”

The Digital Health Most Wired Survey is now part of CHIME’s Digital Health Analytics (DHA program), a global market intelligence and research hub launched in 2022. Digital Health Analytics was created to be a gateway for provider organizations and companies to better understand how digital technology supports leaders in transforming health and care and delivering data insights that help them make the greatest business impact possible.

Benchmarking and Best-Practice Sharing

The updated Digital Health Most Wired Survey and DHA portals were developed through a desire to help health care entities “be able to benchmark [know how they compared to competitors and peers in the marketplace], share best practices, and continue to improve towards industry standards,” Branzell said.

Increasing from about 2,000 respondents five years ago, to just under 39,000 facilities represented last year and more than 40,000 expected this year, the Digital Health Most Wired Survey is now one of the largest digital health surveys in the world, said Branzell. Respondents represent 17 countries from around the world (this is up from zero international respondents three to four years ago). Respondents are counted as stand-alone entities, so a health system may have ten entities (e.g., different hospitals, medical groups, divisions). Entities can fill out surveys separately or as an aggregate report, but Branzell said many organizations opt to fill out individual surveys, so that benchmarking comparisons can be made.

Data from surveys are made anonymous and aggregated for the DHA portals, making analysis and benchmarking inside the system “deidentifiable.” The DHA portals allow respondents to compare their results, for example, with peer groups, regions of the country, similar-sized entities, like entities, and like systems. In addition, respondents can compare their overall performance by digital themes, such as consumer engagement or cybersecurity.

Opportunities and Challenges

Some of the greatest opportunities for health care organizations center around consumer engagement. As Branzell noted, “where we start dealing with [social media] is outside the traditional walls of the hospital. [Other opportunities are] in areas of overall innovation and technology as . . . the industry changes [and] shifts to a value-based model. All of these areas are relatively new to organizations, so you would expect their scores are not as high in those areas, but [scores tell] them where to focus their efforts.”

Added Dretke, “As health care organizations increasingly focus on patient engagement strategies to connect with patients and improve health outcomes, there has been a remarkable increase in the use of patient/family-facing videos to educate patients and their families about procedures (16% increase), labs and test results (16% increase), and medications (11% increase).”

The greatest area of challenge continues to be cybersecurity, Branzell said. “With cyberattacks on the rise, health care organizations are rising to the challenge by adopting additional frameworks, sharing information, and implementing new security measures. What we continue to see is that the larger, more complex organizations do better overall in cybersecurity than smaller organizations without the same level of resources. We call that the ‘Cyberdivide.’ . . . All organizations need better standards, better requirements, better resources to thrive in cybersecurity.”

Significant Improvements and Scoring

The Most Wired Survey is not just about information technology (IT), Branzell said; “it is about an organization’s overall digital health and outcomes.” Similar to Baldrige, the Digital Health Most Wired Survey uses bands of standards that are updated each year. Branzell said performance is determined by whether an entity is improving in the band and whether more organizations are being recognized at higher levels.

“Our analysis shows that beginning at Level 7 designation, true excellence in digital health begins to emerge. And at levels 8 and 9 further progress in digital transformation is evident. Beyond that, Level 10 organizations have exceeded expectations and achieved the very highest levels of digital health and care transformation. They are the forefront of digital transformation and maturity,” said Branzell.

Entities in Levels 46 “have made progress in expanding their core IT infrastructure to support internal strategic initiatives.” And entities in levels 13 “are in the early stages of developing their technology infrastructure and may still be transitioning, or may have more recently transitioned, to electronic formats for collecting patient data and performing clinical activities,” Branzell added.

Organizations that reach Level 7 are recognized. When they reach Level 10, there is a site visit as part of the assessment, and those entities are recognized with the highest honor and trophies. For recognized entities, there are sponsored receptions, special meetings, and webinars to share best practices, he said, adding that entities participate because they “they want to continue to raise the bar year-over year in service to their patients, employees, and the communities they serve.”

Hard-Wiring Baldrige

Branzell said he was first introduced to Baldrige in 2003 when his then-employer Poudre Valley Health System (now part of the University of Colorado Health) started using the Baldrige framework and its Criteria for improvement. (In 2008, Poudre Valley Health System won the Baldrige Award.)

Since then, Branzell said he always uses the Baldrige Criteria. “People will jokingly say that I use Baldrige as the way I run my life [including family strategic planning and goal setting]. . . . Once your brain is wired to be a Baldrige thinker, that’s what you are. You just think that way: performance excellence, always improving, striving to fix areas.”

Future of Digitization

Branzell said the opportunities for the future use of digitization can be found in every sector, not just in health care.

“People are digitizing . . . [and] moving to a more advanced innovation model . . . even down to how health care operates and how the electrical grid is changing. . . . Everyone is transforming themselves. . . . Even the concept of working from home and working in a mobile environment. . . . It’s a different world then what you think of when we came out of post-COVID for all of the sectors of the economy.”

2023-2024 Baldrige Excellence Framework Business/Nonprofit cover artwork

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About the author

Dawn Bailey

Dawn Bailey is a writer/editor for the Baldrige Program and involved in all aspects of communications, from leading the Baldrige Executive Fellows program to managing the direction of case studies, social media efforts, and assessment teams. She has more than 25 years of experience, 18 years at the Baldrige Program. Her background is in English and journalism, with degrees from the University of Connecticut and an advanced degree from George Mason University.

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