AI Gets The Buzz, But Health IT Leaders Still Focused On The Basics

New research from a consulting organization suggests that while new technologies beckon and COVID continues to disrupt operations, healthcare leaders remain focused on the problems they’ve struggled with for many years.

Those participating in the survey, which was conducted by Stoltenberg Consulting, included 64% who worked in health systems and 26% in standalone hospitals. In addition, 8% reported working in ambulatory care settings and 2% in “other” settings.

Not surprisingly, COVID remains on the top of respondents’ minds. Fifty percent of those responding to the survey suggested that to tackle the pandemic threat, the best thing CIOs can do is to lead data collection efforts to provide the CDC and state with up to date information on the virus. (In some cases, healthcare organizations have decided to go well beyond this, making substantial shifts in their workflow and even their infrastructure to tackle their COVID-19 challenges, but this approach isn’t an option for everyone.)

When looking beyond COVID-19 related topics, 43% said that the biggest area of discussion they’d encountered was AI/machine learning. Survey participants also cited interoperability and greater competition in the marketplace as concerns, with both being named by almost 30%.

That being said, when all is said and done it seems that health leaders are still focused on largely the basics. According to Stoltenberg researchers, 45% of those surveyed said that EHR version upgrades were their organizations’ most recent or near future mission-critical IT event. Other priorities included system, server or software patching, EHR downtime, and system consolidation from M&A activity.

Handling even these routine problems effectively continues to be a challenge. As always, keeping qualified IT staffers – and paying for them – can be a major stretch, as noted by 42% of respondents. This problem has been exacerbated by the arrival of COVID-19 and the financial strain it has imposed on providers. The results of these tensions include IT services failures such as system downtimes or cybersecurity incidents (24%) and provider burnout or inefficiency due to EHR-related frustration.

Respondents also worry about the impact of IT staffing issues on end users. For example, respondents reported that 45% of IT end users were frustrated by inefficient system workflows, 24% by IT ticket resolution concerns and 21% by issue/call wait times.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.