Health tech that made the biggest difference in 2021, per 4 CIOs

Hospital leaders have used technology throughout 2021 to provide virtual care, predict disease outbreaks and more. Here, four health system CIOs share their choices for the health technology that made the biggest difference this year.

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

Atefeh Riazi. CIO at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York City): In our view, virtual triaging made the biggest difference. By first connecting with patients remotely, hospitals were able to determine who should come in for COVID-19 testing. It also allowed hospitals to defer visits by those whose conditions weren’t as serious, allowing healthcare resources to be targeted to those most in need. 

B.J. Moore. CIO at Providence (Renton, Wash.): In the context of another year marked by COVID, patient engagement tools such as scheduling, communication, pre-visit tools, payment and telehealth have made the biggest difference.

Zafar Chaudry, MD. CIO at Seattle Children's: I believe the key technologies driving the most value in 2021 are collaboration tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and WebEx; digital care tools used in telemedicine; and the use of artificial intelligence and big data to drive drug development.

Scott MacLean. CIO at MedStar Health (Columbia, Md.): Our national investment in the EHR over the past decade demonstrated significant value for caring for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we learned more about the disease, we were able to modify assessments, order sets and establish COVID-19 early warning systems across the enterprise. Because the EHR is implemented in all of our hospitals and clinics, any approved changes to our care processes were immediately available to all clinicians. This also served us well as we established telehealth workflows, testing modalities and vaccination clinics. When monoclonal antibody therapy became available, we were quickly able to offer it in four of our emergency departments. The EHR connected with regional health information exchange technology also eased the burden and made public health reporting more accurate.


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