How COVID-19 left a mark on the health tech industry

From changing the pace and implementation of technology, to advancing "digital transformation" from buzzword to reality, six CIOs reflect on how the COVID-19 pandemic changed the landscape of the healthcare technology industry.

Daniel Uzupis. CIO of Jefferson County Health Center (Fairfield, Iowa). The health IT industry and field has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic by executives recognizing the need for digital transformation not just as part of employee experience, but as part of employee retention, performance and success (hybrid, remote, etc).

Saad Chaudhry. CIO of Luminis Health (Annapolis, Md.). There's a quote by Benjamin Franklin that comes to mind: "After crosses and losses, men grow humbler and wiser."

While I believe that the full impact of the pandemic on health IT will be clearer several years from now, there are certain changes in both, the leaders and the industry that are apparent today.

For one thing, telehealth is no longer unique or innovative — it's an expectation. 

Vendors in this space were offering "pioneering" tech for many years, but when the pandemic brought in-person operations to a halt, things did not function as smoothly as they should have. And so, CIOs now have a better grasp on both the tech and the vendor landscape in the telehealth arena.

Similarly, while digital transformation had been a buzzword for many years running, it became painfully obvious during the pandemic that very little of our healthcare operations were truly digital, despite us spending so many resources on healthcare IT "innovations" for decades. I believe this definitely led to a metamorphosis for CIOs — the realization that there is a huge difference between just implementing IT systems and real digital transformation of an organization, where you actually change the way work is done, care is provided and facilities operate.

Sunil Dadlani. CIO at Atlantic Health System (Morristown, N.J). The pace of innovation and digital transformation has accelerated at a hypersonic scale. 

Innovations that typically took five to seven years' time are now happening within a few months. Every single facet of healthcare is being disrupted and reimagined to create new care delivery models and settings.

Health technology is now at the forefront of everything we do in healthcare — from clinical innovations to operational efficiencies to financial performance to workforce models — everything is driven by technology. 

Technology strategy is now, in fact, a key part of corporate strategy.

Steven Travers. CIO of USA Healthcare (Cullman, Ala.). The health IT industry and field have changed since the COVID-19 pandemic to one with higher numbers of remote workers, heavy reliance on collaboration software and increased mobility of IT staff. This change in the workforce being a mix of local and remote staff has enabled healthcare IT organizations to hire from a previously unavailable pool of diverse candidates with critical skills not commonly found in their local area.

Linda Stevenson, CIO of Fisher-Titus Medical Center (Norwalk, Ohio). Our world has become more accepting of change and has become more agile. 

The pandemic has allowed us to remove barriers that were more traditional ways of working and held us back from progress.  

We are now working in new ways and have an entirely new set of priorities, focused on the people and patients. What a great change!

Jennifer Greenman. CIO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America (Boca Raton, Fla.). The rapid emergence of digital care delivery is welcome progress for many who long ago recognized the potential benefits to patients and care teams alike.  

It's also been very positive to see the synergies created by new entrants to healthcare partnering with established provider organizations, demonstrating the value of collaboration toward improving health. I'm hopeful that we will be able to sustain these advancements through the end of the public health emergency and beyond. 


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