IT Forefront

What 84 health care CIOs told us about health IT in 2019

by Naomi Levinthal, Andrew Rebhan, Allyson Vicars

As IT's role in the organization continues to expand rapidly amidst care transformation, digital transformation, and innovation imperatives, unprecedented demand has been placed on IT leaders and their teams. We surveyed 84 CIOs and other IT leaders to get a sense of which strategic challenges they care about the most going into 2019, asking respondents to rate 25 topics from IT value realization to regulatory programs on a scale of "extremely interested" to "not interested."

Upcoming webconference: The health care IT trends you need to know for 2019

The top five areas of interest for the respondents to our survey were to:

  1. Foster a data-driven culture at my organization (56.9% ranked as "extremely interested");
  2. Develop and prepare leadership for IT's evolving role (54.9%);
  3. Build a mature analytics program that delivers better value in clinical and administrative settings (52.9%);
  4. Use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to generate high quality predictions and intelligently automate processes (50.0%); and
  5. Understand applications and use cases for emerging technologies and communicate potential challenges (49.0%).

After analyzing the top responses and diving into the full results from our survey, here are three key trends for 2019:

Trend/takeaway #1: AI, emerging technologies, and other aspects of innovation continue to draw heavy interest

There is no shortage of emerging technologies in the news cycle these days: robotics, the internet of things (IoT), blockchain, virtual reality—the main challenge for health care providers is where to make concrete initial steps to adopt these technologies for some quick wins. One particular area of focus has been AI, which encapsulates a number of other topics (e.g., advanced analytics, machine learning, natural language processing, virtual assistants).

2018 was a big year for AI, but industry stakeholders now look to get past the hype and discussion of AI's potential, and get into real world applications that show tangible benefits for organizations. In addition to greater progress across AI applications, health care organizations will increasingly focus on how to prioritize and deploy all forms of emerging technologies, as many health systems now run disparate pilot programs without any formal oversight or unified approach to implementation across departments.

Trend/takeaway #2: It's not all about technology—institutional culture, leadership development, and improving clinician experience are also key focus areas

The growing emphasis on innovation and digital transformation has expanded IT's role, which can have implications for how IT and non-IT leaders work together going into 2019. CIOs need to "have a seat at the table," where they extend their insight and work closely with other C-suite leaders to ensure all stakeholders understand evolving roles and responsibilities, and what that means for future strategic planning, governance, and value realization from major IT investments. However, the C-suite should not overlook the needs of clinicians and other front-line staff when they plan for 2019—they need to foster a data-driven culture, and take the time to address matters of training, burnout, and workflow.

Trend/takeaway #3: Prompted by the industry move to digital health, providers continue to evaluate the needs, risks, and opportunities of the digitally-enabled patient

Consumerism has been a reoccurring area of focus for our members over the past few years, however there still remains plenty of gaps in the development of an integrated platform that supports the digitally-enabled patient—this is changing due to digital health. There are multiple aspects to this consumer-centric model, which include the use of a "digital front door,” mobile apps, virtual care, and also the incorporation of new data streams (e.g., patient-generated health data, social determinants of health data) for a more comprehensive view of patient health. Done properly, the increased focus on digital health systems can help build a platform that opens up new opportunities for patient engagement, and also creates new channels to analyze and share data that will improve decision making across the continuum of care.

Preparing for 2019? We can help:

  • Register for our upcoming webconference: 2019 Health Care IT Industry Trends

  • Access our latest Health Care IT content: The Health Care IT Advisor landing page is the main point of access for our IT resources – check out our latest content under "What's New."

  • Schedule a private research briefing: Members can have one of our subject-matter experts present our latest research to their teams either virtually or on site at their institution. Access our Health Care IT Advisor Presentation Guide to learn more.