Recapping Hospital CIO 2024 Predictions and Strategic Healthcare IT Insights

Recently, we heard thoughts on healthcare IT in 2024 and beyond from hospital and health system CIOs — all members of The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). From lessons learned to future plans and priorities for the next 12-18 months, we’ve highlighted four major takeaways from the virtual partner education series, starting with the lasting impact the pandemic had on health IT.

  1. While clinician shortages and burnout remain prevalent, new IT advancements have emerged from the pandemic. From increased work-from-home options to vast improvements in virtual care models, there has been an important shift in better utilizing technology to coordinate care and communication between patients and clinicians. IT advancements in telehealth, remote patient monitoring, artificial intelligence, and automation drive more active patient consumers, who increasingly expect healthcare to be as user-friendly and experience driven as their favorite apps. Technologies that were once considered revolutionary are now helping achieve a hybrid model of care to reduce burden felt by providers. As one CIO notes, there is now a real opportunity for practical commercial tools to help better integrate AI, boosting clinical care and operational efficiency.

  2. There is no "one quick fix" to the global workforce issue. Many healthcare organizations are taking advantage of remote work, since they are no longer limited by geography. At the same time, salary and benefits must stay competitive amid the competitive race for qualified IT resources. Due to these emerging trends, hospitals and health systems have been more creative in their recruitment and retention efforts, such as utilizing early collegiate recruitment programs and deploying work schedule flexibility models. Health IT executives are also leveraging employee recognition and hybrid work solutions to retain talent. As staffing shifts occur across other industries and big tech, hospitals are taking advantage of IT talent becoming available, while also turning to consulting firms to cost-effectively fill qualified HIT talent gaps with quick ramp up.

  3. Consumerism is here to stay. IT focus needs to shift to the patient and clinician experience, along with ways to improve care interactions and engagement to better retain patient consumers and physician talent. Today’s patients want to take responsibility for managing their own health journeys. To make better care decisions, healthcare consumers increasingly expect — and demand — better information, data access and transparency from healthcare providers.

    As patients continue to serve as a primary healthcare payer, health systems need to evolve to meet their expectations, which typically align with consumer experiences from other service sectors. Moving toward value rather than volume, healthcare providers must consider three key concepts: affordability, access and experience. Initiatives such as boosting patient access through online scheduling and bill management, referral management, and data utilization will drive efficiencies and improve patient outcomes, while reducing operational costs.

  4. Advocate for interoperability. A lack of interoperability elicits incomplete understanding of both population health and individual care needs, leading to higher costs and poor patient outcomes. CIOs today are propelling the next generation of healthcare electronic data exchange among healthcare organizations, patients and payers, making health data more widely available to improve patient care access and affordability. Creating incentives for more advanced EHR adoption, data exchange and accessibility paves the way for greater healthcare collaboration. As health systems advocate for interoperability, we are seeing organizations move from the traditional paternal system – where patients physically go to the doctor and lack direct access to their own health record – to now increasing operational efficiency by allowing patients remote and immediate access to their own care.

    Data transfer among EHR systems and healthcare stakeholders enables better workflows and reduces ambiguity, but common challenges persist including budget limitations, outdated legacy systems and meeting diverse technology needs. Yet still, the ultimate goal remains for an interoperable environment that improves healthcare delivery by making the right data available, at the right time, to the right people.

While there is shared excitement as HIT advances, healthcare executives are finding it more difficult to balance emerging IT demands in an economically challenging environment. CIOs noted it’s getting harder to manage their budgets while still addressing what clinicians are up against. Securing a flexible IT support model partner to help keep up with jockeying IT demands and retention challenges, without acquiring added expense, can make all the difference in fulfilling competitive HIT goals.

For additional health IT leadership insights and industry conference takeaways, check back for updates to the Stoltenberg Blog.

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