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Three healthcare CIOs believe 2020 will come with exciting opportunities as well as challenges -- not unlike 2019.
They are heading into the new year with the goal of building a more digitally-focused healthcare system. They're also focused on improving the patient experience through continuous patient monitoring and predictive analytics backed by artificial intelligence and machine learning programs, telehealth services and greater access to data.
That won't be easy. Arthur Harvey, Boston Medical Center CIO, said one challenge he foresees is integrating data across the continuum of care.
Here are their biggest takeaways from 2019 and what's on their agendas for the new year.
What is your biggest takeaway from 2019?
Craig Richardville, CIO at SCL Health in Broomfield, Colo.: The biggest takeaway from 2019 is that the future of healthcare delivery and financing is as unknown as it's ever been. What that means is that we have an opportunity to participate in its new definition and to start painting the vision of the future.
Arthur Harvey, CIO at Boston Medical Center: To me, as a CIO, I've got to be focused on the business rather than just technologies and looking for technologies that solve my business problems. I think one of the biggest challenges we're having is the acceleration of the need to share data across the continuum of care with people who are… my partners, but I don't control them. We've got to come up with techniques and technologies to share data across the continuum of care that are doable by organizations of different sizes. I can't expect a little community health center to do what I can do. If I look at what we spent a lot of time on this year, it's that.
John Bosco, CIO at Northwell Health in Manhattan, N.Y.: In general, I would say things are changing rapidly in healthcare. We've got care model reform. For us it's a lot of growth and expansion… it feels like controlled chaos.
What new trend or technology came onto the scene in 2019 that you'll be paying attention to in 2020?
Richardville: There was not a new technology, from my perspective, that took us by storm, but rather a heightened interest and advancement in business use cases in several areas. First, digital transformation and assets. Secondly, voice services as both an input mechanism and natural language processing. Thirdly, artificial intelligence with providing self-service, assistance and the building of a digital workforce. All of these will be accelerated in 2020 with improved adoption and acceptance.
Harvey: Data democratization, or self-service. The idea of providing data and providing tools that could be used by people outside of IT to come to some business conclusions. This isn't revolutionary, but I think we're at a point right now where most places have something like Tableau… and I think extending that down to the provider level, I think we're going to see that in 2020. That's a good thing so people can use data to inform their decisions on how they provide care or manage their practice.
Bosco: We're only at the very beginning of transformation when it comes to continuous patient monitoring. Being able to put sensors on patients when they come in the door is really huge. I think we're all at the very beginning of that. We've got about four, five or six pilots going on of different sensors for different purposes in our hospitals. Sensors backed up by AI and machine learning programs, we think, are going to have an incredible impact on healthcare and we're only at the very beginning of that.
What challenge presented itself in 2019 that you will be dealing with in 2020?
Richardville: The continued challenge with each and all of our progressions will be the culture and its ability to transform through change management and change realization. We need to create a culture of continuous change, improvement, and the courage to transform and advance ourselves and our industry.
Harvey: Data integration across different organizations. It was hard enough to do data integration inside of an organization for years, that's why HL7 was invented. But now, when we're trying to do it across organizations it gets hard. Part of it is we need standards. I would describe current standards for a lot of this data as evolving.
Bosco: Patient experience is No. 1 -- it tends to be No. 1 in a lot of places. That's been a big challenge and will continue to be. From the IT side, patient experience is broad. It's thinking about access to finding care, scheduling care and the administrative aspect of coming here. How easy do we make all of that? We're also doing a lot with trying to stay in contact with patients after they leave and help them get well and stay well.
What are you most excited for in 2020?
Richardville: I think you need to keep your head on a swivel and your eyes completely open. The speed in which solutions will be available both inside and outside of the industry will grow exponentially. So your ability to take advantage of the current, be prepared for the future and be flexible for the unknown will be characteristics of success.
Harvey: Most of the things that have me jazzed are things that have been around a while but now are getting to the point where adoption actually improves healthcare. As an example, I'm very excited about telehealth. I think it's now become much more mainstream, and that's a good thing. That's a good thing for patients for providers, for everybody … being able to extend [healthcare] services for convenience purposes to get patients where they need to be seen for minor stuff. I think we're going to see some real advantages there.
Bosco: The cutting-edge stuff is always the most fun, so I'm very excited to continue testing and piloting innovations. I think AI is going to rule the world in healthcare and in our personal lives, so I would have to label that as most exciting. I think it's going to get to the point where everything is so much smarter, so much more sophisticated because it's being driven by AI behind the scenes. Every part of our lives is going to become more sophisticated because of this and this is going to have a profound impact on everyone.