Center for Connected Medicine polls top health systems about 2019 priorities

Cybersecurity is still the big one. But interoperability and telehealth are not far behind for leading organizations' technology goals.
By Benjamin Harris
10:22 AM
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The Center for Connected Medicine polled IT executives across 38 health systems for its 2019 Top of Mind survey. Cybersecurity continues to be the biggest concern across the industry, with telehealth and interoperability not far behind.

Those topics arguably represent something of a return to basics after last year's #2 and #3 items: consumer-facing technology and predictive analytics.

WHY IT MATTERS
The CCM, which is run jointly by UPMC, Nokia and GE Healthcare, partnered with The Academy for the new survey, polling tech execs – CIOs, CMIOs, CNIOs – to get a sense of the the state of the industry: the challenges that exist, and how C-suite leaders will be tackling them in the year ahead.

While it continues to be a top area of spending and development, cybersecurity breaches still cause "reputational and financial harm" to even large organizations. The survey finds only 20 percent of respondents are confident about being able to recover from a security breach. Executives say education and training are the biggest weak points; a concern that will only grow as IoT and connectivity demands increase.

Telehealth also appears to be a bit priority in 2018. Respondents to the CCM survey "unanimously anticipate growth in the next three years as reimbursement increases and consumer demand picks up." Many systems let outside contractors provide the systems while utilizing their own physicians- meaning integration and ease of use are key.

Ensuring that "the health care system puts patients first" is CMS coordinator Seema Verma's goal for pushing interoperability. CCM's survey finds that increased interest around interoperability is no surprise, "given that large technology companies from outside the healthcare industry are showing interest in the space."

THE LARGER TREND
Cybersecurity budgets will mostly grow, with increases in staff and education at the top of the list. While systems are largely in place, health systems will be "focusing their investments in areas to fill gaps and support their current teams."

In telehealth, demand is driving adoption and health systems are hoping reimbursement will follow, as one CEO notes that "consumers want it. When we talkto our customers, they say they want access to clinical information 24/7 at their fingertips. They want it to be easy and streamlined."

Interoperability continues to be a must for organizations that want to drive innovation to stave off challenges from outside "Big Tech" industries (like Google and Apple) which have strong data and disruption backgrounds. At the same time, improved interoperability allows health systems to adapt and innovate- which includes working with those potential disruptors, in a "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" scenario.
                   
ON THE RECORD
"Many health IT executives believe the impact of these advanced solutions (artificial intelligence, consumer technology, and genomics) will be further down the road when compared to the more pressing concerns of cybersecurity, telehealth and interoperability," according the report. "Yet technology is evolving quickly. Solutions that seem far away one year can offer a very real use case the next."