- Despite the increased focus and attention on digital trends like advanced analytics and artificial intelligence, EHRs will continue to dominate spending budgets, according to a new survey from Damo Consulting. Additionally, IT budgets are expected to grow by at least 20% this year.
- Healthcare executives, the survey found, are "confused by the buzz around AI and digital" and "struggling to make sense of the changing landscape of who is playing what role" in the industry. Of the 64 executives responding to the survey, 40 were technology and service provider executives, with the other 24 being healthcare enterprise executives.
- While non-traditional players like Amazon and Google will have a "strong impact" on competition, according to the report, the influence of "deeply entrenched" EHR vendors like Epic and Cerner will keep growing.
Healthcare executives see interoperability and data management as the biggest obstacles to digital transformation. And, while 79% of respondents said there will be significant growth in healthcare IT spending — over 20% — only 60% of IT vendors felt the same. Concurrently, 71% of healthcare executives feel they are constrained by budgetary issues and 67% feel they are leading their peers in digital transformation.
That same percentage of respondents find the buzz around AI to be confusing.
"Digital and AI are emerging as critical areas for technology spend among healthcare enterprises in 2019. However, healthcare executives are realistic around their technology needs vs. their need to improve care delivery," Paddy Padmanabhan, CEO of Damo Consulting, said in a statement. "They find the currently available digital health solutions in the market are not very mature."
AI currently holds the most promise in administrative and operational practice, where it has the potential to alleviate the burden of tedious tasks that fuel burnout. One such example is currently in use at Cleveland Clinic, where an AI platform that was initially built for retail is being used to track hospital bed use. The platform is able to identify where processes break down by monitoring resources and patient movements through the OR.
PwC's Health Research Institute recently listed higher use of artificial intelligence as one of six major trends for the industry in 2019, foreshadowed by Suki's late-2018 pilot boom.
However, both technology providers and healthcare executives feel rapid changes in HIT make buying decisions even harder. More healthcare executives than technology providers believe government provided a boost to HIT spending last year. CMS is expected to do its part by expanding telehealth payments for Medicare Advantage plans.