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1 = Data analytics and other related health information technology topics have begun to play an important role in the healthcare environment of today. One way to keep track of these changes is through the review of reports by industry leaders. For the past few years, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) has conducted a survey to track thoughts on this environment.

Review the 2019 through 2021 survey results. What are some conclusions that may be drawn? What are your thoughts as to the future role of someone in health informatics?

Provide a summary of the findings in the survey and your article in a one to two page (12 point font, double-spaced) paper.

2 = We are hearing more and more about personalized medicine and the role it can play in healthcare. This week we will focus on a hearty discussion. To prepare for this discussion, review the following resources regarding these topics. Look for outside sources such as scholarly articles on this topic to aid in your discussion.

Future of Care

Is the Future of Healthcare Preventive Medicine?

What are your thoughts? Do you see a change in the future around this approach to our health? How will this impact the area of health informatics?

8th Annual Health IT Industry Outlook Survey
Health systems must find qualified IT resources to supplement support strain and
improve end-user satisfaction as they face turbulent demands
Health systems have been ramping up their data analytics capabilities
EHR Upgrades Remain Mission-Critical
for years. The events of 2020, however, have pulled those efforts into
Interestingly, 45% of those surveyed said that EHR version upgrades
even sharper focus. Hospital and health system CIOs expect to spend
were their organization’s “most recent or near-future mission-critical
the rest of the year trying to maximize data analytics programs and
IT event.” Other responses included “system, server or software
AI initiatives, while scrambling to secure qualified IT resources and
patching” (29%), “EHR system downtime” (16%), and “system
satisfy end users who are frustrated with workflow inefficiencies.
consolidation from M&A activity” (11%).
These are a few of the findings from Stoltenberg Consulting’s 8th
The clear focus on EHR new version upgrades underscores the
Annual Health IT Industry Outlook Survey, which was conducted
importance of infrastructure adaptation with industry competition,
as the COVID-19 pandemic reached U.S. populations. Among the
M&A movement and evolving value-based care reimbursement
respondents, 64% work for health systems, 26% for stand-alone
technology alignment. As healthcare facilities run IT system or
hospitals, 8% in ambulatory care settings, and 2% in “other” settings.
application updates, or as they bring newly acquired facilities onto
Here is a more detailed look at the results:
the newest system versions, a standardized communication hub
Biggest topic for 2020: Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Similar to the 2019 findings, AI represents a dominant theme for
health IT leaders. When asked, “Aside from the COVID-19 pandemic,
like a go-live command center can provide cohesive communication
for all teams during cross-organization events to keep up with
health system growth.
what is the biggest topic for health IT in 2020?” nearly 43% of
Keeping Qualified IT Resources is a Burden
respondents chose AI/machine learning. Familiar subjects such
Retaining and budgeting for qualified IT resources topped the list of
as “interoperability” and “greater competition in the marketplace”
biggest operational burdens related to IT, garnering 42% of responses.
remain large priorities, garnering response rates of almost 30% each.
This is not entirely surprising as many healthcare organizations have
Beyond AI and machine learning, regarding the dominant threat
of COVID-19, 50% of those surveyed said the best thing hospital
CIOs can do to directly aid in the fight against Coronavirus is to lead
data collection efforts to coordinate up-to-date information with
the CDC and state reporting. Another 26% noted the importance
of CIOs overseeing the addition of virus identifier and origination
questionnaires into EHRs.
had to minimize their budgets and significantly reduce or furlough
staff as COVID-19 cut elective care and revenue flow. This concern is
only amplified by the fact that one-third of healthcare organizations
feel unprepared for the COVID-19 financial aftermath. Perhaps
additional strain on bandwidth for already stretched internal IT teams
is reflective of the resource struggle as other burdens cited emphasize
IT’s ability to efficiently support providers reliably.
They include IT service failures such system downtimes or
insights and help desk support. So, here are two overarching tips to
cybersecurity hits (24%) and provider burnout or inefficiency
help CIOs address their IT resource challenges and alleviate end-user
from EHR frustration (21%). This resource strain heightens already
frustrations:
significant IT support bandwidth concern, which hinders issue ticket
resolution and one-on-one user support time.
1. Drive accountability with more in-depth metrics analysis
When end users complain about IT ticket resolution, it seems logical
Analytics and Help Desk Support Needed
to track call resolution times. While useful, this metric alone is not
When asked, “What is the top area of IT where you wish you could
enough to generate accurate visibility into end-user frustrations.
have stronger support?” respondents were almost even in their desire
Having an expert on deck who can communicate steps to resolution
for support toward “applicable data analytics insights” (34%) and “the
effectively allows end users, especially burnt out clinicians, to feel
IT help desk” (32%). This equal combination of needs highlights the
more assured their concerns are heard. Without fixing the underlying
persistent desire healthcare leaders have for greater understanding of
issues, they will only recur and further irritate users. Instead, leaning
the ongoing issue trends in addition to more meaningful data insights
on experienced IT support can not only solve issues quickly, but also
to mitigate clinical care and end-user support needs.
ensure they are not repetitive (wasting resource time and budget).
Measurable metrics that keep track of trending issues can also make
Additionally, it is no surprise that when considering where healthcare
sure an organization’s IT team is consistently held accountable for
organizations will invest the most IT dollars this year, “Maximizing
tickets and more proactively mitigates issue areas before they mount.
data analytics program” took the top spot (37%). This was closely
followed by “applying AI initiatives” (34%), while EHR version
When expertise is combined with real-time custom analytics
upgrades (18%) and cybersecurity measures (11%) fell in the IT
dashboards, IT teams can offer more beneficial insights into IT
investment rankings. This emphasizes the transition from initially
support requirements, as well as the root causes of IT issues. In
dipping into data analytics program launch to now leveraging more
addition to call resolution time, for example, dashboards should
robust programs to better predict and align resources for emergency
track call volume, abandon rate, average call length and user
response, population health management and operational efficiency
satisfaction rate. With a more holistic view, health systems can take
during COVID-19 and beyond the pandemic.
a more proactive approach to IT service operations and prevent
Frustration from Inefficient Workflows
As fewer face-to-face interactions occur, reliance on IT continues to
increase further emphasizing existing user frustrations. Respondents
say that 45% of IT end users are most frustrated by inefficient system
workflows. Other end-user frustrations include “IT ticket resolution”
(24%), “issue/call wait times” (21%) and “poor analyst communication”
(11%), showcasing the need to emphasize continual improvement IT
support processes to drive organizational goals amidst the transition
in care approach.
Key Takeaways
Overall, it appears that COVID-19 has caused CIO priorities to pivot
somewhat. Whereas past years’ surveys reflected an emphasis on
long-term initiatives such as value-based care alignment with health
system expansion, this year’s responses reveal more immediate data
analysis, resource and workflow priorities.
There may be a direct correlation between end users’ frustrations
about inefficient workflows, ticket resolution and wait times, and
the needs that CIOs expressed for additional IT resources, analytics
the common issues currently frustrating end users like lack of IT
resolution, call wait times and poor communication. A deeper
look (and visual representation) into service desk metrics and call
interactions provides a tell-tale view into IT application workflow,
interdependencies and efficiency across growing health systems to
proactively mitigate issues from snowballing.
2. Prioritize flexibility without stressing budgets
The events of 2020 highlight the vital need for IT staff flexibility;
however, they’ve also stretched the already limited margins
enterprise organizations make. Whether it’s supporting mission
critical events such as quarterly EHR upgrades, or ensuring
streamlined workflows and data collection as clinical staff respond
to COVID-19, IT departments must have quality resources that ebb
and flow as necessary. One way to achieve this is through a targeted
outsourcing strategy with IT partners who can deliver a flexible yet
reliable IT infrastructure on demand. Health systems thus ensure both
cost consistency and ongoing access to qualified IT resources with the
cross-application expertise to quickly support IT priorities and satisfy
both clinical and financial end users.
For more information about how flexible IT solutions can provide greater insight into resolving
end-user challenges, visit www.stoltenberg.com/flexsourcing.
Responses represent 74 participants in an online survey that concluded in August 2020. Of the respondents, 53% were healthcare IT professionals, 26% held healthcare executive/C-Suite titles,
and 21% held various clinical, financial or other titles.
9th Annual Health IT Industry Outlook Survey
Patient engagement must be considered beyond the lens of value-based performance
metrics. In the wake of COVID-19, health system CIOs should expect to see patient
retention strategies aimed at re-engaging patients through advanced digital health.
The pandemic accelerated the move to virtual care as hospitals
Patient Engagement Takes the Spotlight
and health systems leveraged telehealth to triage COVID-19
More than half of hospital and health system CIOs (52%) said
patients and treat non-emergent cases while limiting the spread
that beyond supporting their organization’s COVID-19 response,
of infection. It also raised the bar for the digital health experiences.
patient engagement is their biggest focus for 2021. Interestingly,
their prioritization of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine
While value-based payment models have long
stressed the importance of patient engagement
in improving health outcomes, post-COVID-19
consumers expect care experiences to be highly
coordinated and highly digital, with tools for
managing their health and health information.
Health systems that fail to deliver on the
digital experience could struggle to attract new
consumers following the pandemic. The potential
impact: loss of competitive position and difficulty
regaining financial health.
learning—which ranked as the No. 1 topic for health IT according
to last year’s survey—dropped dramatically. This year, just 14%
of CIOs said AI is their top area of focus. However, interest in
bolstering digital enablement and the patient experience
remains strong.
Many respondents reported that if budget were no issue, they
would invest in more—and more knowledgeable—help desk staff
to create a more streamlined, standardized end-user experience.
In addition, the desire to provide a more advanced self-service
end-user experience, as seen in other more consumer-driven
industries, was prevalent.
It is also notable that compared to last year, survey respondents
The need to effectively leverage existing IT investments to
are less centered on addressing increased marketplace
maximize ROI and strengthen patient engagement digitally is a
competition, which 9% cited as a top focus, down from 30% in
top-of-mind concern for hospital and health system CIOs, and
2020. Meanwhile, interoperability remains a top area of concern,
one of the findings from Stoltenberg’s 9th annual Health IT
with one in four respondents designating interoperability as their
Industry Outlook Survey co-hosted by the College of Healthcare
largest priority.
Information Management Executives (CHIME) . Here is a more
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detailed look at the results:
More New Dollars Go to EHR Upgrades
After a year of turbulence, health systems are prioritizing
IT resources and funding for operational improvements this
year. Nearly one in three healthcare CIOs said their biggest IT
investments likely will go toward EHR upgrades (31%). Leaders
recognize that operations items delayed during the pandemic must
be revisited now. Many healthcare facilities are doing double and
even triple jumps in new version upgrades to catch up. Since most
EHR software vendors have contract clauses about staying up to
date on version releases, working closely with the vendor will be
important this year to reduce significant operational strain, blind
spots during system testing, and compliance issues for
the organization.
Other priorities for IT investment are more evenly divided with
cybersecurity (25%), maximizing data analytics programs (22%) and
the need for telehealth support (20%). Just 2% expect to prioritize
investment in AI capabilities in comparison to other areas.
Internal IT teams that felt stretched before COVID-19 suddenly
needed to support the rapid expansion of telehealth, often rolling
out new platforms and training hundreds of new users—both
clinicians and patients alike—in just days.
They also were tasked with keeping up with increased, swiftly
changing demands for IT support across the system. In this
adjusted environment, healthcare leaders expressed that IT
end users became less concerned with wait times and IT ticket
resolution (17%) or poor communication (8%) and more worried
about recurrent end-user frustration related to inefficient
workflow (58%).
The area where CIOs wish they could bring in additional support:
data analytics. Survey results showed 45% of CIOs have a strong
desire to maximize analytics programs with additional resources.
When competing needs often forced IT teams to put internal
customer experience on the backseat, CIOs also craved stronger
support for the IT help desk (19%). Resources for end-user
education (19%) and clinician customization (17%) also hold strong
CIOs Feel the Heat for Cybersecurity
appeal during year two of the pandemic.
Cybersecurity and EHR new version upgrades competed closely
as the top mission-critical priorities for CIOs in 2021. However,
cybersecurity took priority (33%), followed by EHR upgrades
(30%), despite more CIOs reporting they are allocating investment
dollars to EHR upgrades. This is likely due to the significant spike in
cybersecurity events targeting healthcare in 2021.
As healthcare mergers and acquisitions (M&A) begin to increase
Getting the Most from IT Investments
Healthcare CIOs’ biggest financial goal was clear: getting the
most out of their existing IT purchases (59%). In a rapidly evolving
environment, technology must adapt to the changing needs of
healthcare and the changing preferences of consumers more
directly involved in their own care journeys.
again after a pause in activity during the first half of 2020, so
has CIO interest in integrating IT systems. About one in five
respondents said IT integration following system consolidation
is a mission-critical priority—which indicates that high-quality IT
support will remain essential to organizational success. System,
server or software patching (17%) garnered a fair amount of
interest, while EHR system downtime fell off CIO radars at just 1%.
59% of healthcare CIOs
said getting the most out of
their existing IT purchases
was their financial priority
for the year.
CIO Concern for Ability to Retain Top IT Talent
Retaining and budgeting for qualified IT resources ranked as CIOs’
greatest operational burden for the second consecutive year, at
55%. While experts expect healthcare IT spending to rise 6.8%
this year, survey results suggest CIOs are highly concerned about
their ability to keep IT talent in the midst of decreased revenue.
Additional areas of operational concerns identified by CIOs
included IT service failures (19%), like those caused by system
downtimes or cybersecurity hits, as well as increased provider
burnout stemming from EHR inefficiencies (17%).
With organizations facing intense pressure to do more with less
across the board, IT leaders must align strategic priorities with
cost-saving considerations. That means structuring IT teams for
scope scalability: placing the right resources in the right areas at
the right time, with the ability to ebb and flow, as necessary. It also
requires health IT leaders to develop strong relationships with IT
vendors to draw from their expertise to leverage existing systems
for optimal value.
Strengthening the ability of IT systems to support reimbursement
2. Apply analytics analysis to end-user support.
under value-based payment models also ranks as a top financial
By doing so, organizations gain a sense of where further
goal. One in five CIOs said this is on their radar for the year.
investment is needed. This could also highlight opportunities to
The ability to improve and sustain the speed, accuracy, and
bolster existing platforms with relatively little cost. For example,
value of financial reporting falls much lower, at 11%, followed by
help desk incident analysis depicts bigger picture departmental
capabilities for improving claims and patient payments (9%).
workflow or system education hindrances. As a clear view into
organization-wide EHR use, this is especially helpful during mission
Key Takeaways
It’s clear that healthcare CIOs face competing pressures following
critical events, like crisis management, new system go lives or EHR
upgrades to detect areas of concern.
the emergence of the pandemic. On one hand, they are challenged
to be more innovative—to enable digital capabilities that prioritize
3. Optimize IT spending through flexible staff support.
patient engagement and lessen the burden for providers. On the
At a time when the digital experience has become a competitive
other hand, they must rein in healthcare IT costs, knowing that
differentiator for hospitals and health systems, many internally
revenues are down and COVID-19-related expenses are high.
operated help desks cannot handle the crush of inquiries coming
By enabling a mix of properly skilled and flexible staff, healthcare
CIOs can maximize existing IT systems while supporting the need
for supercharged patient engagement. Here are several ways to
achieve these objectives:
their way. Utilizing IT support resources who can easily flex in
and out of project area needs is pivotal for nimble response that
better optimizes IT spending without draining resource costs or
adding on ramp up and training time. Having a reliable partner
for multi-functional resources who can understand, follow and
resolve downstream issues before they become priority-one
1. Think strategically about enabling long-term digital
health and remote access.
During the first months of the pandemic, healthcare IT leaders
prioritized speed in deploying telehealth and remote work
solutions, knowing these solutions were vital to controlling the
virus spread. Now, CIOs must push digital health innovation
tickets significantly curbs resolution time lag, possible clinical care
or business office delays, or operational conflict. When IT support
teams are better enabled to not only understand the EHR system
but also cross-organizational workflow and communication, they
can more actively adjust or better define processes to maximize
system utilization.
beyond initial operational survival tactics. They must consider:
“How can our organization and our communities gain the most
value from these investments?” This requires focus on stabilization
on telehealth programs beyond the COVID-19 eased regulations to
maintain a strong, recurrent revenue stream. It also demands that
CIOs carefully consider how to deploy the staff support needed to
elevate offerings and quality of service at a time when IT support
teams are in high demand. With remote patient monitoring and
telehealth enablement, end-user support must shift in terms of IT
For more information on
a strategic approach to
sustaining digital health
engagement and maximizing
IT investments, or for report
media inquiries please visit:
www.stoltenberg.com
knowledge transfer from clinicians only to patients too from a true
education standpoint.
Through March 2021, 65 CIOs from U.S. hospitals and health systems and members of the College of
Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) participated in a virtual survey.
1
7th Annual Health IT Industry Outlook Survey
Healthcare providers must rely on modern IT capabilities to improve the
patient experience and address value-based care
Throughout the next year, two priorities are likely to stand out for
topic in the healthcare industry this year. However, one sign of the
healthcare professionals: updating technology to improve the patient
transformative shift occurring in healthcare is the fact that artificial
journey and ramping up value-based care initiatives. Despite these
intelligence and cybersecurity both rank fairly high on the “biggest
goals, based on current IT training, staff feel unprepared to manage
topic” list, at 26% and 20% respectively. External industry disruptors,
and execute effective IT operations within their healthcare facilities.
such as Google or Amazon, are just starting to edge into the limelight,
at 9% of industry hot topic focus.
These are among several key takeaways from Stoltenberg
Consulting’s 7th Annual Health IT Industry Outlook Survey. More
than 300 healthcare professionals participated in the survey,
representing a comprehensive spectrum of provider facilities
including health systems, standalone hospitals, physician practices
and other ambulatory care facilities. Clinical IT professionals led
survey participation (38%), while executive/C-suite leaders followed
closely behind (36%). Here is a closer look at the results:
Emphasis on the Patient Journey
System Interoperability Remains a Challenge
As healthcare organizations continue to embrace new technologies,
lack of system interoperability represents the biggest operational
burden (54%) for survey participants. With data exchange rules on
the radar for the ONC and CMS, progress toward more accountable,
true interoperability will remain a major focus over the next year.
Among the other operational burdens noted are “rising overhead/
staff costs” at 17%, “financial reimbursements” at 15%, and “EHR
burnout or reporting burden” at 14%.
Empowering patients to play a greater role in their own healthcare
journeys is the prevailing business objective for many health IT
leaders this year. Most survey participants (42%) rate “updating
technology to improve the patient experience” as their top objective,
followed by “measuring improvement in patient care” at 33%.
Interestingly, these two goals far surpass the more traditional goals
of “improving staff retention and satisfaction” (12%) and “maximizing
reimbursement opportunities” (13%).
Biggest Topic: Value-Based Care
Alongside the sharp focus on the patient care experience, 45%
of respondents say that value-based care is the most significant
Little Consensus on IT Hurdles
Opinions are split when it comes to assessing the most significant
hurdle for healthcare IT teams this year. “Leveraging meaningful
patient data” (32%) receives a slight edge over “ineffective IT/EHR
operations” (29%), followed by “protecting the privacy and security
of patient information” (20%) and “managing IT staffing fatigue and
shortages” (19%). This lack of consensus likely points to the wide
variation in IT environments found among individual
healthcare organizations.
Implementation Support Stays High Priority
support capabilities, determine their desired state, and develop
Similar to last year’s survey findings, continued EHR support and
a year-over-year roadmap to strategize and track against their
interoperability amongst merging facilities are pressing IT staffing
value-based care goals. Realistically aligning value-based care
challenges. If they were to consider full or partial IT outsourcing, 34%
reporting is important in this context. Providers can ease their
of respondents indicate they would be most interested in EHR or
burden and streamline their efforts by making data capture and
other application implementation support. Optimization work (27%)
analysis more automated and consistent. Healthcare leaders
represents another strong area of interest, as does legacy systems
should think beyond the check-the-box mentality for value-
support (22%), followed by help desk/service desk support (17%).
based care reporting.
Additional Training is Needed
2. Use interoperability as the foundation for
transformational advancements
Optimizing technology to meet evolving healthcare regulations
Lack of effective system interoperability is an ongoing challenge
and consumer expectations is a daunting endeavor — especially
for the healthcare industry. Until it’s addressed, it will hold back
for healthcare organizations faced with a lack of IT support staff.
substantive advances in the patient experience. Similarly, the
Moreover, 63% of respondents say they feel “unprepared” or “very
need to utilize data more effectively to guide decision making will
unprepared” to manage and execute effective IT operations based
only grow as organizations consider the value of AI and robotics-
on the current training offered at their organizations. Consequently,
based automation.
staff training is an area of opportunity to eliminate end-user error
and maximize EHR system use.
Organizations that drive greater integration and analytics
of IT systems and data across provider facilities — and
Key Takeaways
extend that integration even to patients at home — will find
Overall, the 7th Annual Health IT Industry Outlook Survey reveals an
themselves better positioned to meet these challenges head-
interesting correlation between respondents’ goals and challenges.
on. Additionally, data and system integration ensure that
The top goal of improving the patient journey, for example, can be
organizations have a comprehensive, accurate and reliable
matched to the most significant IT hurdle (leveraging meaningful
perspective of their care-quality performance and operational
patient data). Similarly, the overarching focus on value-based care
effectiveness.
coincides with organizations’ biggest operational hurdle (lack of
system interoperability).
3. Consider creative alternatives to address
workforce challenges
What this means is that healthcare organizations are well aware
Finding and keeping skilled healthcare IT resources can be
of the need to improve the patient experience, measure those
challenging, especially when specialty industry certifications
improvements, and make gains related to value-based care. At the
and regulations make workforce obstacles more acute amidst a
same time, however, challenges around effectively implementing
strain on training and available resources. To strengthen training
and supporting new technologies to accomplish these priorities
programs, healthcare organizations should first prioritize their
threaten to hold them back. Here are three tips to help healthcare
goals, then map them to current and projected skillset gaps.
organizations facing similar challenges:
What does the healthcare organization’s current workforce look
like, and what will it look like in three years? Use this insight to
1. Realistically strategize application of value-based

invest in innovative training approaches that keep staff up-to-
care initiatives
date and engaged. In addition, healthcare organizations can
Value-based care is designed to help improve care quality and
ease staffing pain points with a targeted outsourcing strategy
personalization for the patient. As a first step, organizations
to maximize efficiency and maintain support levels, whether for
should assemble a cross-disciplinary team to assess their
strategic support to integrate new systems, daily operational
current organizational environment, define internal IT staff
assistance, or modernizing the traditional help desk.
For more information, visit www.stoltenberg.com.

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