Top of mind for health system leaders? Investing in cybersecurity tech and staff

Center for Connected Medicine survey finds 92 percent plan to increase spending to keep IT systems safe.
By Bernie Monegain
03:04 PM
Investing in cybersecurity tech and staff

When it comes to technology investments, health systems executives are looking for projects with a high impact. That means cybersecurity is at the top of their to-do lists.

Health systems are more likely to invest in proven solutions that offer immediate impact on clear and present dangers such as cybersecurity threats, rather than investing in newer technology, such as artificial intelligence and wearables, new survey shows.

Nine of 10 healthcare leaders say they will boost spending on cybersecurity technology to help identify and respond to threats in 2018, according to the report, "Top of Mind for Top U.S. Health Systems 2018," conducted by the Pittsburgh-based Center for Connected Medicine, which partnered with the Health Management Academy.

[Also: UPMC, Sharp case study shows how hospitals are already pushing AI to the limit]

That may seem like a no-brainer, but with plenty of other technology innovations making themselves felt, some were surprised that other tools weren't higher on the list.

For instance, Rasu Shrestha, MD, a radiologist and chief innovation officer for UPMC, said he was surprised that so many leaders appeared to be eschewing artificial intelligence – at least for now.

"The one thing that did surprise me was around artificial intelligence, primarily because there's so much discussion around it," Shrestha told Healthcare IT News. Still, he said he expects very few executives to be spending big on AI in 2018.

"That's a reality check that we as executives need to be aware of, but also the healthcare vendor community and entrepreneur community need to be aware of as well," he said.

The Center for Connected Medicine report focuses on five areas in the health IT industry: cybersecurity, consumer-facing technology, predictive analytics, virtual care and artificial intelligence.

Commenting on virtual care, Shrestha noted that fewer than half of respondents said they received reimbursement for virtual care or remote monitoring.

"Telemedicine is like this overnight success story 30 years in the making," he said. "As we look at reimbursement around virtual care, 71 percent expect to be reimbursed for virtual care in 2018.

As he sees it, it's critical for leaders to balance the hype from reality and make a judgment call – not only regarding virtual reality but also regarding other changing aspects of healthcare.

"When we are talking of reality of these types of things, I think the onus is on us as executives to balance the hype from the reality and make the right judgment calls moving forward," he said.

Shrestha noted that UPMC is at the forefront of virtual care: UPMC AnywhereCare offers patients with non-emergency symptoms 24/7 quick online access to care anytime and anywhere.

Other highlights from the Top of Mind 2018 report include:

Cybersecurity. 92 percent of respondents plan to increase spending on technology to boost cybersecurity in 2018. Two-thirds said they are increasing non-C suite cybersecurity staff.

Consumer-facing technology. Less than a quarter of respondents (17 percent) expect wearables or mobile health apps (21 percent) to provide valuable patient-generated data in 2018. However, executives said they are planning for patient-generated data to make up a larger portion of a patient's health record in the future.

Predictive analytics. More than half of respondents said they are using – or plan to begin using – genomic testing as part of providing personalized medicine to patients. The efforts are focused on oncology, anesthesia and pharmacogenetics.

Virtual care. Less than half of respondents – 39 percent – receive reimbursement for virtual care or remote monitoring. Of the respondents not receiving reimbursement, 71 percent expect to be reimbursed for virtual care in 2018.

Artificial intelligence. Compared with other IT priorities for 2018, implementation of A.I. solutions are a low or very low priority at nearly two-thirds of responding health systems. Executives reported that A.I. is in its early stages where proving its value is difficult. However, they expect, it will have greater impact in the future.

Twitter: @Bernie_HITN
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