- Health IT executives' top priorities differ considerably depending on their organization's stage of EHR deployment, a new report by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives and LexisNexis Risk Solutions shows.
- CHIME and LNRS asked about 20 high-level technology leaders about what issues will demand their attention in 2019. Those whose organizations were in early stages of EHR adoption and upgrades were largely focused on interoperability, cybersecurity and other infrastructure concerns.
- Once the groundwork is laid, the major priorities shift to data governance and data cleansing. Organizations with mature IT systems are looking to analytics to provide actionable insights and leverage technology for patient engagement.
The report echoes other surveys that show hospitals focus on health IT and cybersecurity.
In a recent HIMSS survey, both healthcare leaders and vendors ranked cybersecurity, privacy and security as their chief concern, followed by improving quality outcomes. Another survey by Damo Consulting found IT spend heavily trained on EHRs, as executives wrestle with interoperability and data management issues on the path to digital transformation.
For organizations in the early stages of IT adoption, establishing basic infrastructure is key. Cybersecurity efforts are increasingly focused on multi-layer security such as one-time passwords, biometric screening and knowledge-based authentication. According to the report, CIOs "likened their strategy to that of plugging holes, with each additional security layer plugging more vulnerabilities in their system infrastructure."
With the challenge of multiple access points, organizations are also paying more attention to insider threats.
Interoperability is also a top concern, both in terms of data exchange and ensuring data can be used in a meaningful way.
As IT systems mature, organizations' focus turns to ensuring data is current, complete and accurate. CIOs cited challenges with mismatched patients and duplicate records, as well as patient and provider directories. To address such problems, many are working to break down silos within their organization and "focusing on an enterprise-wide effort that includes significant input from health information management and quality assurance," according to the report.
Technology leaders at organizations with the highest levels of IT maturity named data analytics and patient engagement as their top priorities for the coming year. Several of those surveyed said being able to mine data and partner with clinical teams is critical to success as the industry moves to more value-based payment models of care delivery. Others pointed to the role of analytics in setting accurate risk-adjustment targets.
CIOs of organizations with mature EHRs are also looking for ways to embrace consumerism more fully, from providing more options for patients to communicate with providers to offering interactive content via portals and mobile apps, the report notes.
These execs are also looking at the hard questions about patient-owned medical records — if and when that occurs. For example, how can organizations ensure data are accurate and current, and could providers be liable for medical errors based on patient-owned data. There is also the question of what to do if patients decide not to share their information and whether they're ready to manage their own health data.