Health IT's biggest missed opportunities in 2021: 4 CIOs weigh in

Hospital leaders have utilized technology throughout 2021 to provide virtual care, predict disease outbreaks and more. Here, four health system CIOs share their choices for health IT's biggest missed opportunity in 2021.

Note: Responses have been edited lightly for clarity and style.

Atefeh Riazi. CIO at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York City): The biggest miss was the healthcare industry’s failure to use tech to advance health equity. We know that COVID disproportionately hit socioeconomically disadvantaged communities, yet we didn’t use tech to aggressively tackle this issue. We all need to do more to assess and intervene in cases where patients bear a high burden in terms of housing stability, food security, domestic violence, mental health, etc. 

B.J. Moore. CIO at Providence (Renton, Wash.): COVID-19, staffing challenges and a focus on operational recovery have taken much attention away from optimization. While we have made tremendous progress implementing new tools and processes, it has been hard to focus enough attention and resources to optimize the benefits to patients and providers.

Zafar Chaudry, MD. CIO at Seattle Children's: Robotic process automation remains the missed opportunity as it has not been able to hit mainstream due to the setup and configuration costs of these tools, which should decrease over time. RPA would certainly help in the staffing crunch, especially in support services.

Scott MacLean. CIO at MedStar Health (Columbia, Md.): We missed the opportunity to agree on a way to uniquely identify patients between provider systems. While some have privacy concerns about patient identifiers, I often hear clinicians speak about the importance of consistent patient identification across the care continuum. Of course, this would also lower complexity in clinical systems and enable longitudinal records across providers. Patient identity standards would reduce duplicate testing and delays in care.


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