5 overlooked trends CIOs should address

Hospital CIOs must stay on top of trends to maintain successful digital strategies, as technology and the culture around it are constantly evolving. Becker's talked with five healthcare CIOs to highlight trends they think other CIOs are overlooking:

  1. Addressing technical debt: Hospitals can be tempted to delay the removal of aging technology, as the immediate return on investment is not clear. But it is important for hospitals to assess the risks of relying on technology that is no longer supported, as well as the negative effect technical debt can have on the potential success of modernization efforts, B.J. Moore, CIO of Renton, Wash.-based Providence, told Becker's. "It is like building a sprawling modern structure over obsolete, faulty foundation and fittings," he said.

  2. 5G deployment: 5G has potential to benefit healthcare in ways 4G could not, Michael Pfeffer, MD, CIO at Palo Alto-based Stanford Health Care, told Becker's, saying 5G will allow for faster speeds and more connected devices while reducing interference between devices. He also said 5G's ability for thousands of devices to quickly and securely send data throughout an organization can improve the supply chain, advance mobile medical imaging and reduce capacity issues on existing Wi-Fi networks.

    Even though healthcare is still three to five years away from realizing 5G's true benefits, Dr. Pfeffer said it's important that hospitals start planning the necessary upgrades now, especially if they are in the midst of constructing new facilities.

  3. EHR-based mobility and voice solutions: Many hospitals are failing to take advantage of the mobility and voice solutions built into the EHR, Roy Sookhoo, CIO at University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque, told Becker's. He proposed a litmus test for hospitals: "If the technology is not ubiquitous with clinician-patient interaction and our physicians are still documenting after their shift is over, then hospitals are overlooking the real value of the mobile and voice solutions already built within their EHRs."

  4. Cloud-first approach: Enabling a cloud-first strategy is key once an organization decides to move to the cloud, according to Mr. Moore. "Cloud is where innovation and scale are occurring, so any investment on solutions that are natively for on-premises represent a step in the wrong direction," he said.

  5. Gaps in cybersecurity strategies: Many hospitals are not putting enough effort into staff training regarding phishing, Randy Davis, CIO at Sterling, Ill.-based CGH Medical Center, told Becker's. Many think of cybersecurity as hardware-focused, but that's recovery rather than prevention, he said.

    "Nearly 50 percent of attacks come in through social engineering, and yet our focus is still on the hardware to stop it," Mr. Davis said. "If you're going to stop malware, you have to stop social engineering attacks. That means a commitment to internally generated campaigns to try to get people to fail. If they fail, educate them with more than a 'please don't click on that (or open that) again.'"

    Many hospitals also overlook the gap in overall security programs within their facilities, according to Carl Smith, CIO at Brookhaven, Miss.-based King's Daughters Medical Center. He said although many hospitals rely on an annual audit to satisfy HIPAA requirements, cyberthreats have evolved to a point where most traditional methods won't hold up.

    "Solutions such as extended detection and response and managed detection and response have become a necessity in today’s world," Mr. Smith said. "Health systems today need expertise more than simply relying on their own limited security staff."

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