Tag: TEKsystems

Cutting Through The Hype: The State Of Blockchain In Healthcare

By Ben Flock, chief healthcare strategist, TEKsystems.

Ben Flock

Healthcare professionals know that blockchain is coming, but there is still some apprehension associated with the technology. The cryptocurrency industry first pioneered this technology and its results have been highly impressive. But when it comes to the healthcare industry, there is a lack of proven use cases, leading to a delay in blockchain’s widespread adoption.

To pull back the curtain on the reluctance to adopt blockchain technology, TEKsystems partnered with HIMSS Analytics to host a focus group of business and technology leaders from the payer, provider, pharma and public sector. The goal: to better understand customer needs and business challenges when it comes to actually implementing blockchain.

Findings revealed that, as most in the industry already know or suspect, there is a limited overall understanding of blockchain technology. However, it seems that this limited knowledge is the foundation for most of the apprehension toward widely adopting the technology. Additional roadblocks that contribute to this apprehension include the lack of impactful use cases, fears of what the unspecified governance of data could mean for compliance, security concerns and industry politics, among others.

There is good news—those who have a basic understanding of blockchain exhibit less apprehension and a more cautious exuberance toward adoption of the technology. As understanding of blockchain grows and more practical examples of its benefits are found, the healthcare industry will become more open to implementing blockchain solutions.

During the focus group, participants discussed proven use cases for blockchain that could be used as industry examples to help increase the general understanding of blockchain technology. The group identified three main use cases that could be implemented in the near term after a short testing period: provider directory updates, expediting the provider credentialing process and prior authorization.

A provider directory was the first use case identified by the focus group. Insurance companies must provide patients with timely, accurate provider contact information and new patient availability. While Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regulate provider directory services, many of them are inefficient, costly and often laden with manual processes. With blockchain, the provider ledger could be maintained through a proactive, structured, perpetual process enabling open and direct access to provider information on an as-needed basis. Because provider directory information is already public record, it’s a high-result, low-risk proof-of-concept project.

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Health IT Leaders Taking Tentative Steps Toward Implementing AI

By Ben Flock, chief healthcare strategist, TEKsystems.

Ben Flock

As technology advances, so does the healthcare industry, with technological breakthroughs increasing the ability of healthcare professionals to serve their patients, record and transfer patient data and more efficiently complete other tasks necessary to keep the industry moving. IT services provider TEKsystems recently released the results of a survey that polled almost 200 healthcare IT leaders (e.g., IT directors, chief information officers, IT vice presidents and IT hiring managers) in late 2017/early 2018 on a range of key issues, including technology maturity, workforce planning, critical roles and the top trends shaping healthcare IT today.

The results revealed a shifting focus from IT leaders: healthcare is behind the curve on initiatives that have the potential to shape the industry going forward, including artificial intelligence (AI).

Business demand is driving both the interests of IT leaders and the prioritization of AI in healthcare.  Value-based care, regulatory mandates and the consumer push for precision/personalized care are driving the business prioritization of AI. These results indicate that while IT leaders know AI in healthcare is the future, they are currently taking a cautious approach to utilizing the technology. This is very likely rooted in security concerns, as there are federal, state and even local mandates dictating the protection and privacy of patient data.

Although cautious, healthcare organizations are actually proceeding on the AI front. As evidence, survey data shows a high percentage of healthcare organizations are in the implementation, evaluation or refining stage with respect to specific technology applications that leverage AI – digital health systems (75 percent) and telemedicine (51 percent). This pragmatic approach to AI will continue, and healthcare organizations will address this emerging industry imperative by providing IT resources, as well as enabling platform technologies and repeatable solutions capabilities in secure applications and solutions that leverage artificial intelligence.

To ensure IT employees are aware of the need to be cautious when implementing AI initiatives, organizations must ensure adequate onboarding and ongoing risk and compliance (R&C) training is provided. An annual “check the box,” activity, R&C training isn’t enough to help employees and third parties manage risk appropriately. The best strategy is to implement a risk-based approach by focusing on higher risk functional areas with direct access to consumers and/or protected health information (PHI), and creating targeted training. Simple education and awareness tactics can dramatically improve compliance when employees and third parties understand how to apply teachings to their area.

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TEKsystems: Healthcare IT Leaders Continue to Expect Budget Increases in 2015

IT RecruitingLeading into HIMSS15, TEKsystems, a provider of IT staffing solutions, IT talent management expertise and IT services, highlights results that explore the current state of IT operations at healthcare organizations. The findings identify key objectives and challenges for healthcare IT teams, the skills most needed to meet those demands, as well as expectations for spending and confidence. The data is gleaned from information captured within TEKsystems’ 2013–2015 annual IT forecasts as reported by IT leaders (CIOs, IT VPs, IT directors, IT hiring managers) at healthcare organizations.

Key findings from the data include:

Expectations for IT Budget Growth Decrease in 2015; Yet Confidence Continues to Increase

  • Fifty-one percent of respondents expect their organization’s healthcare IT budget to increase in 2015, down from 68 percent that said the same entering 2014, and returning to levels seen entering 2013 (52 percent). Thirty-eight percent expect IT budgets to stay the same, a significant increase over 2014 (23 percent) and similar to levels of 2013 (41 percent).
  • Sixty-four percent are confident in their IT department’s ability to satisfy business demands in 2015, an increase over the 59 and 58 percent that felt confident heading into 2014 and 2013, respectively. Ten percent indicated they are unconfident in 2015, the same percentage as 2014 and down from 2013 (13 percent).
  • TEKsystems’ Take: Expectations for budget increases began to normalize last year. Following the ICD-10 extension by Congress, IT leaders felt less pressure to seek additional funding to meet those deadlines. Confidence has continued to grow even as budget increases have leveled out, now that organizations have core personnel in place or have developed other plans, such as outsourcing, to address workload concerns.

IT Support Aligns with Business Challenges; Focus Is on Improving Operations and Efficiency

Organizational Challenge 2014 Rank 2015 Rank (% of IT leaders)
Operational issues 2 1 (81%)
Risk management 1 2 (79%)
Revenue 3 3 (67%)
Workforce management 4 4 (59%)
Customer attraction, retention and satisfaction 5 5 (22%)
  • Over the last three years, operationally focused areas (e.g., improving efficiency, reducing costs, improving existing IT applications and infrastructure, and managing risk) have all been cited within the top five business objectives that most need IT support.


Business Objective 2015 Rank (% of IT leaders)
Improving efficiency 1 (49%)
Reducing costs 2 (42%)
Improving existing IT applications and infrastructure 3 (37%)
Managing risk 4 (34%)
Delivering operational results 5 (29%)
  • TEKsystems’ Take: Now that healthcare organizations have identified the biggest challenges facing them in 2015, they are working to align IT support priorities to address those challenges. They have laid the foundations for their large IT initiatives and must shift focus to ensure that they are implementing new projects and establishing best practices in a way that allows them to make the most of existing investments. Increasing efficiency and making the most of these implementations will better position them to take on other projects in the future.

Most Impactful Technology Trends Include Business Intelligence (BI) / Big Data, Security, Mobility, Consumerization and Cloud; Expected Spending Increases Mirror These Areas

  • Over the last two years, healthcare IT leaders listed BI/Big Data, security, mobility and consumerization of IT/BYOD as the top four trends impacting their organizations.
Area of Impact 2014 Rank 2015 Rank (% of IT leaders)
BI / Big Data 4 1 (61%)
Security 3 2 (54%)
Mobility 1 3 (42%)
Consumerization of IT / BYOD 2 4 (38%)
Cloud 6 5 (31%)
  • The majority of healthcare IT leaders expect to see spending increases in security (70 percent), mobility (61 percent), BI/Big Data (60 percent) and cloud (55 percent).
  • TEKsystems’ Take: These expectations for spending increases make sense considering that security, mobility, BI/Big Data and cloud are all cited as the most impactful areas and tend to have some interdependencies. These areas play a large part in how healthcare organizations can increase operational efficiency and risk management.

Hands-on Roles Still Most Critical For Success, Also Most Difficult to Fill with Exceptional Talent

  • “Doers” continue to be cited as the most critical positions for an organization to achieve success. In 2014 and 2015, project managers, help desk / technical support and programmers and developers were cited within the top four roles most critical to enabling success.
Critical Role 2014 Rank 2015 Rank (% of IT leaders)
Project managers 2 1 (51%)
Help desk / Technical support 3 2 (47%)
Programmers / Developers 1 3 (45%)
IT managers 7 4 (40%)
Software engineers 6 5 (37%)
  • In terms of the most difficult roles to fill, project managers rank as the No. 1, climbing two spots up from No. 3 in 2014. Security (No. 2), programmers and developers (No. 3), software engineers (No. 4) and architects (No. 5) also ranked within the top five most difficult positions to fill. BI (ranked No. 11 in 2013) ranks as the sixth most difficult position to fill, down from No. 5 in 2014.
  • More than half of healthcare IT leaders expect salary increases for project managers (55 percent), software engineers (53 percent) and programmers and developers (52 percent). Approximately one-third (34 percent) expect increased salaries for help desk / technical support.
  • TEKsystems’ Take: It’s not surprising that project managers and programmers and developers remain in the top four most difficult positions to fill, as these staff members are in the trenches ensuring that organizations continue to make the most of their IT investments to increase ease of use and efficiency. This value translates into greater expectations for salary increases as organizations seek to retain their developed talent.

Vast Majority Expect Staff Salaries to Rise; More Than Two out of Five Expect Full-time and Contingent Hiring Increases

  • Seventy-three percent of healthcare IT leaders expect overall IT salaries to increase in 2015. The remaining 27 percent expect salaries to stay the same, with no respondents expecting salary decreases.
  • Forty-three percent of healthcare IT leaders expect hiring for full-time IT staff to increase, while 52 percent expect hiring to remain the same. Just 5 percent expect to see a decrease.
  • Forty-two percent of healthcare IT leaders expect hiring for contingent IT staff to increase, while 52 percent expect hiring to remain the same. Only 6 percent expect to see a decrease.
  • TEKsystems’ Take: As more work is done to make the most of investments in BI / Big Data, security, mobility and consumerization of IT / BYOD, organizations will need to at least maintain their full-time and contingent workforces in order to cultivate efficiency and make progress. While retaining top talent by increasing salaries will be a key tactic, new staff will need to be brought on as projects expand.

“Last year, we saw an early surge in the numbers of healthcare IT leaders expecting to see budget increases due to the overarching mandate to meet the former ICD-10 implementation deadline and to get new healthcare technology initiatives off the ground,” said Ryan Skains, executive director of TEKsystems Healthcare Services. “We are seeing those numbers level out as organizations not only make headway on the projects they have begun, but as they increasingly become confident in their staff’s expanding expertise and ability to meet major deadlines. Moving forward, the focus will be on refining systems and processes to increase efficiency and growth opportunity.”

TEKsystems: More Than Half of Healthcare Organizations Have Yet to Implement Business Intelligence Systems

TEKsystems, a provider of IT staffing solutions, IT talent management expertise and IT services, releases the results of a survey that explored the current state of business intelligence (BI) system deployments among healthcare organizations. The research, released in advance of HIMSS14, explores many of the concepts serving as central themes to the annual event, including clinical analytics and BI, as well as data interoperability.  Despite the acknowledged benefits that healthcare organizations would realize, the study finds that the vast majority have yet to implement a BI system.

The survey, conducted on behalf of TEKsystems’ Healthcare Services division, represents views of more than 250 healthcare professionals, including senior-level health IT executives and medical staff such as CIOs, directors of information systems and clinical informatics, physicians, and chief nursing officers. Respondents represent a wide cross section of healthcare organizations including hospitals, medical clinics, ambulatory care centers and integrated delivery systems.

Key highlights from the survey include:

Business Intelligence System Implementation Lags

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