Achieving the perfect HIMSS DHI Score: A chat with Samsung Medical Center’s digital lead

Achieving the perfect HIMSS DHI Score: A chat with Samsung Medical Center’s digital lead

Healthy living

The achievements of Samsung Medical Center have been well-documented. From its world’s-first Stage 7 achievements for the HIMSS Infrastructure and Digital Imaging Adoption Models, to clinching a top score for the HIMSS Digital Health Indicatorin 2022, the hospital has attained milestone after milestone in the realm of digital health.

Its latest achievement might be the most impressive thus far – achieving a maximum score of 400 this year for the DHI, a tool that measures progress toward a digital health ecosystem.

Healthcare IT News recently spoke with Dr Poong-Lyul Rhee, Chief Data and Digital Officer (CDO) at SMC and the guiding force behind the hospital’s digital transformation. He shed light on his career in health IT, the hospital’s philosophy, and the role the HIMSS DHI and Maturity Models have played in enhancing the delivery of SMC’s healthcare services.

From medical doctor to health IT evangelist

Obtaining a medical doctorate degree from Seoul National University Graduate School in 1992, Dr Rhee began his career as a gastroenterologist at Samsung Medical Center. Some eight years later, he found himself getting involved with the work of the hospital’s EMR committee and familiarising himself with how technology could impact care delivery.

From 2008 to 2011, he served as the Director of Medical Information before assuming the mantle of CIO from 2013 to 2017. The newest feather in his cap is his appointment as SMC’s CDO from 2021.

“In the present era, technological advancements are progressing at an astonishing rate, with new developments emerging every day. Effectively incorporating these ever-changing technological shifts into our digital transformation journey is crucial for improving both patient and healthcare professional experiences,” he said.

“Ultimately, the goal is to achieve the Triple Aims: improving the experience of care (including quality and satisfaction), enhancing population health, and reducing per capita costs of healthcare. As a medical professional, this is how I contribute to providing care for patients.”

Journey to DHI Score of 400

“Summarising the countless experiences that led us to this point in just a few words has its limitations,” Dr Rhee explained. “Numerous stories are needed.”

He shared that the most crucial aspect of the hospital’s journey is its focus on outcomes, which requires clear strategic planning and unwavering leadership from its executive board.

At the staff level, sharing a vision for driving digital transformation is essential.

“It involves forming a cohesive team, moving in a unified direction, and fostering teamwork, he said. “Step by step, celebrating small successes together, we gain new momentum and continue moving forward.”

As the hospital forged ahead on this road, leveraging the HIMSS models felt natural, with SMC’s digital transformation efforts over the past 30 years aligning closely with the concepts of the HIMSS DHI and Maturity Models.

In addition to achieving a DHI score of 400, the hospital was the first globally to reach Stage 7 for four HIMSS Maturity Models.

“[Medicine today] requires utilising IT for the advancement of humanity. Specifically, it should effectively facilitate patient treatment and contribute to their health and well-being,” he stressed.

“Samsung Medical Center has been committed to these goals since its inception, and I believe that the HIMSS DHI is the most appropriate assessment framework to follow.

“I believe the shared company colour between Samsung Medical Center and HIMSS is not a mere coincidence. Rather, it reflects a fundamental alignment at the DNA level. As a result, our collective endeavours have consistently yielded positive outcomes within the framework of HIMSS DHI and Maturity Models.

“Personally, I feel fortunate to dedicate a lifetime to such endeavours. Samsung Medical Center achieving a perfect DHI score fills me with boundless pride and honour.”


Samsung Medical Center is featured inHow technology is helping South Korea deliver excellent healthcarea HIMSS documentary on South Korea’s digital health journey, now on YouTube.Watch the film below.

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