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The top health system issues for 2018

The New Year is right around the corner and when it comes to health IT, healthcare professionals have quite a few health system issues on their mind.

C-level healthcare professionals have to juggle keeping the lights on and making sure their organization is secure, while also looking to the future and innovating to adjust accordingly.

The Center for Connected Medicine, an executive briefing center jointly operated by GE Healthcare, IBM, Lenovo Health, Nokia and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) in Pittsburgh, in partnership with the Health Management Academy, surveyed and interviewed CEOs, CIOs, CMIOs, CFOs, and CNIOs from major health systems and discussed overall strategy and priorities – including technologies — for their health systems in the coming year.

Here are the top U.S. health system issues that c-level professionals are focusing on in 2018:

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is always one of the top health system issues and 2018 is no exception. Nearly all respondents (92%) said they are increasing cybersecurity technology resources for 2018.

Respondents said they plan to focus cybersecurity spending on technologies that will help with identifying (such as asset management, governance, risk assessment, etc.), protecting (such as access control, awareness and training, etc.), detecting (such as continuous monitoring and detection processes), recovering (such as disaster recovery), and responding (such as incident response and analysis) to cybersecurity threats and breaches.

One CIO said in the survey: “Most tools that I want to spend funds on are focused around being more proactive. We are good at reacting after the situation, but I want to be more proactive.”

Consumer-facing technology

Another developing health system issue is recognition of the potential of patient-generated data and if a health system doesn’t have patient generated data integrated with their EHR, they plan to in 2018.

The top sources of patient generated data for health systems in 2018 are patient portals, home monitoring equipment, mobile health apps, and wearables, according to survey respondents.

Although not all health systems are currently collecting or utilizing patient-generated data, according to the survey, they all recognize the potential and expect patient-generated data to make up a significant portion of patients’ health data in the future.

Furthermore, 100% of respondents said they plan to promote health and wellness apps to patients in 2018. Respondents said they plan to promote health and wellness apps in 2018 via physician recommendation/prescription, patient portals, and social media, for example.

Virtual care

Although 71% of health systems are not currently receiving reimbursement for virtual care, many health systems are still using these technologies and developing a strategy around them.

The main clinical areas where virtual technologies such as telehealth are being used today include for stroke, mental health, primary care, urgent care, dermatology, and in the ER, the survey found.

One CIO said: “The lack of reimbursement has not affected our strategy. We have moved forward because it’s the right thing to do. [Telehealth] gives a better consumer experience.”

Respondents said that while reimbursement for virtual care is of the health system issues right now, they believe they will begin receiving reimbursement in 2018 and many respondents said they believe virtual care is integral to the future of healthcare.

Artificial intelligence

Nearly two-thirds of respondents said that the implementation of an AI solution at their health system are either a low or very low priority for 2018, although the survey found that over half of respondents are currently using AI.

The most common areas health systems either are planning to or have already implemented AI include clinical decision support, population health, and disease management.

One CFO said in the survey: “I think it’s just a technology. It comes down to the priorities of the organization. You can use AI for anything: rev cycle, standardization, access, readmissions. AI is interesting and fun and exciting, but nascent. It still needs refinement.”

Predictive analytics

One CEO said in the survey: “Just getting started on this now. We need to do much more. It’s an area of great interest – we can see the huge impact. We are in the early phases of figuring out practically how to integrate that.”

Respondents said they expect predictive analytics to provide significant value in areas such as patient safety and quality, readmissions, and clinical decision support in 2018.

However, a few challenges stand in the way including resource allocation, standardizing clinical practice, culture, unstructured data, and more, the survey found.

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