Health system CIOs focus on automation as other capital tech investments slump

As U.S. hospitals and health systems face significant financial hurdles, they are seeing capital technology investments slow and are investing strategically into tech that can automate repetitive tasks and increase operational efficiency, CIOs told Becker's.  

"As a result of the continued financial pressures on healthcare reimbursement and IT, organizations need to align their strategic plan with a lens on capital and operating dollars," said Raymond Lowe, senior vice president and CIO of AltaMed, based in Commerce, Calif. "There is intense pressure to reduce both operating margins and capital to support various initiatives."

As labor costs continue to rise and patient volumes continue to decrease, hospitals and health systems are operating with tighter margins than ever, which is leading them to realign where to invest. 

Mr. Lowe said his organization is making sure it invests in strategic initiatives, specifically in value-based care, data, personnel and appropriate mergers and acquisitions. 

AltaMed is also investing in optimization and is looking at how to improve patient engagement strategies and technical infrastructure, extending the use of computer platforms, and purchasing extended support rather than making large purchases in this fiscal year. 

Rich Rogers, senior vice president and CIO at Greenville, S.C.-based Prisma Health, similarly said capital tech investments are certainly down, but that is a reflection of cloud migration and a shift to operating expenditures. 

Mr. Rogers said CIOs will most likely be focused on technology investments that create immediate operational efficiency for their organizations.  

"Investments that deliver consumer and patient self-service capabilities, RPA solutions that automate repetitive manual tasks, and analytics tools that provide insights into opportunities to eliminate waste are where resources are being utilized," Mr. Rogers told Becker's

He said there is a renewed focus on maximizing the capability and use of core systems to maximize value as an uncertain economy and rising inflation continues to soar. 

"Our overall tech spend is flat year to year, but certainly different," said Mr. Rogers.  

Similarly, Stony Brook (N.Y.) Medicine is making sure its IT investments are long-lasting and can provide its organization with value. 

"Strategic planning efforts drive capital and operational budgetary decision-making so that we can support our commitment to providing high-quality, leading-edge care," Gerald Kelly, DO, CIO of Stony Brook Medicine told Becker's

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