Ready for 2016? Here’s a Top-10 List for Healthcare IT

2015 has been a year of rapid growth and change in healthcare — and that means healthcare IT, too. In our blog, we’ve touch on many of these changes over the course of the year: dealing with PHI in the cloud, virtualized offices, private equity opportunities, the challenges presented by Internet of Things, HIPAA compliance, data leaks and more.

Just last week, Healthcare IT News interviewed the CIOs of several high-profile providers, including hospitals, clinics and research labs. These execs talked about their most pressing opportunities and initiatives they face for the coming year.

So, as the calendar winds down on 2015, it seemed fitting to have a top-10 list of our own. Here are ten challenges that CIOs rate as their highest priorities for 2016.

#1 Health Data Security

While the rest of this list is in no particular order, one priority dominated all the interviews. It’s no surprise securing private health information takes the “Number 1” slot.

Health providers are all experiencing data breaches. On the low-tech side, we need to increase education and awareness in our personnel at all levels, to combat casual and unintentional leaks. And to combat the growing cyber threat, we need to improve network monitoring and preventive measures. But we also better threat detection and collaboration between providers and global threat research groups.

#2 Moving to the Cloud

It’s no longer a question of if a provider will use the cloud, or even when. The cost and maintenance benefits are undeniable. And leveraging the hybrid cloud can address the privacy and compliance concerns. What’s critical, though, is to first assess which content can safely be processed and stored where: on-premise, private cloud and public cloud.

#3 IoT and Big Data Analytics

With the growing number of IoT and mesh devices, we collect more patient data than ever. Aside from defining new security protocols for these devices, we need to do more than store all that data. We need to mine it, analyze it and use it to further medical research, and to improve both patient and population care.

#4 Accountable care

Both ACA and Medicare are shifting the basis for care reimbursements from formulary to quality. We’ll have to collect metrics on the quality of care, not just the speed of care. To maintain a high “star-rating” — and the highest possible payment rates –ACOs will have to ensure patient feedback remains positive.

#5 Patient-centric IT

Consumers today like choice. They can research, review and buy most anything online. Healthcare is no longer an exception. Patients want to compare quality, pricing and payment options before booking an appointment — all online. IT will have to enable this, plus find innovative ways to make their provider stand out in a crowd.

#6 Emphasis on population health

Population health is about more than just collecting data on a group of similar patients. It’s about correlating that information to better understand how diseases progress in order to improve treatment outcomes in populations at large. But regardless of how we define it, population health presents both challenges and opportunities for IT and IT service providers.

#7 Telehealth expansion

While we lead the world in medical research and treatment options, we still lag behind in use of virtual medicine. Telemedicine improves the availability, affordability and convenience of healthcare, not only for patients but for providers as well. It will require equipping facilities and staff with better equipment and bandwidth — but the benefits will be worth it.

#8 Customer relations management

Consumer-centric healthcare gives a patient choices. But once they choose a provider, we should treat them just as other industries treat their customers. By implementing CRM, we can handle patients professionally and courteously from new patient registration and intake, to payment and satisfaction surveys. And CRM can provide reminders for both patients and provider. That means better online presence and efficient communications before, during, after and in between visits.

#9 EHR strategies revisited

If you thought your mandated EHR implementation was “done,” maybe you should think again. Many vendors jumped into the EHR space when it was brand new. The result? Your systems might be inefficient, poorly integrated and cumbersome to use. But EHR vendors have grown up now, and this time around we know now what questions to ask. It’s time to revisit or at least review your solution.

#10 True interoperability

Interoperability is often an overused buzzword. But most of the interviewees noted that it’s critical for their EHR/EMR and other applications exchange information with other providers, insurers and the patients themselves. We need seamless access to a patient’s data, regardless where the patient chooses treatment — there’s that consumer-centric healthcare again.

Originally published at

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