By Sheri Stoltenberg, CEO and founder, Stoltenberg Consulting, Inc.
With the new year, healthcare c-suite members are taking a critical look at upcoming market movement to maintain a holistic view of their organizations’ needs. Discussing industry trends at the recent College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) CIO Forum, Anna Pannier, senior director of Ascension Technologies at Ascension Saint Thomas, noted the significant change taking place in the value-based care and wellness marketplace as a top concern for healthcare organizations.
As healthcare leaders, like Pannier, look to stabilize their IT strategies and drive meaningful patient outcomes and operational efficiency, they should assess these five c-suite hot-button topics in the next year.
The shift in data analytics
As a more mainstream solution in the healthcare industry, data analytics is not considered the big “game changer” any longer, but it is still a significant investment focus for providers over the next year. Many healthcare facilities assume that once an analytics platform is implemented, they are ahead of the game. Unfortunately though, those same organizations fail to customize dashboards, continuously assess data, or really break down data insights for meaningful change and care decisions. Driving quality outcomes through data analytics to prepare for the future of population health risk management will be a large focus in proactive facilities.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence and machine learning in healthcare has now surpassed data analytics on the new investment frontier. The industry has already seen AI application in pathology and radiology in the past year. Eighty percent of healthcare professionals believe that AI is helping to reduce physician burnout, according to a MIT Technology Review survey. Respondent hospitals said AI has increased patient consult time, improved team collaboration and boosted productivity through workflow enhancements.
Similar to data analytics, the CIO will need to work with leadership groups in both the clinical and business sides to determine AI use cases across their evolving organizations. Thought typically applied to clinical care, applying automation and AI on the operations side will drive workload transformation across key business functions.
Greater emphasis on patient engagement
With most organizations having a fully implemented EHR, healthcare organizations are looking to make the most of their long-term investment. Added pressure from value-based care documentation and reimbursement initiatives, as well as increased consumer expectations, drive emphasis on patient engagement. Yet, meaningfully connecting and interacting with healthcare consumers in their patient care plans still lacks.
In fact, pointing to limited or complicated instructions for the everyday patient, a study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that hospitals are not properly preparing patients to take advantage of patient portals. More healthcare organizations are now seeking around-the-clock direct patient portal support, as an extension of their IT service desk’s capabilities. This coupled with remote virtual monitoring will drive improved patient outcomes in the next year.
Healthcare organizations are expected to experience record disruption as the marketplace becomes more competitive. With significant operating cost pressures and more prevalent IT service failures, ranging from system down times to cybersecurity penetrations, IT leadership is feeling the added heat. Multi-year funding shortfalls have hindered new business initiatives with a wading above-water mentality. Amidst continued restrictions on budget and limited, local talent pools, many multi-facility organizations are turning to IT-managed services and cloud support to do more with less. Increased adoption of cloud technology aims to maximize agility for scalable enterprise solutions over the next year.
Advancing revenue cycle management (RCM) capabilities
While fee-for-service still dominates revenue streams, providers are working on their value-based care transitions. According to a CHIME survey, providers are focusing on real-time tracking of value-based care conditions, bundled payment distribution and management, and total cost of care calculations across care settings, though price transparency initiatives are still lagging. Though CMS requirements will continue to push the transition, healthcare organizations of all sizes need to be more proactive to align with the speed of industry change.
By strategically extending each area’s approach beyond the IT silo, healthcare leaders can gain competitive edge to accelerate operational and clinical care effectiveness. Beyond the lasting prominence of cybersecurity, these five topics will stand out as priorities in the next year for healthcare executives.