IT budget spend: Where hospital CIOs are focusing in 2021

Over the last year, hospitals and health systems have implemented major strategy shifts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, including adjusting budgets to ensure their systems could remain afloat. 

With accelerations of digital health adoption and data-based initiatives, providers are looking to increase capabilities for better population health management and EHR customizations. 

Here, three health system IT executives share how they are planning their IT budgets now and through the remainder of 2021. 

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length. 

Question: Which IT projects will your organization invest in most this year, and why? 

J.D. Whitlock. CIO at Dayton (Ohio) Children's Hospital. Our two largest IT projects this year are a picture-archiving and communications system migration and implementation of a vendor-neutral archive, both from Sectra. We are also rolling out a significant expansion of Epic's population health management capabilities, including deploying the company's Compass Rose care coordination module and pediatric social determinants of health tools. 

We're moving forward with enterprise imaging because it's the right thing to do, and our picture-archiving and communications system was end of life. We are also advancing our population health management initiatives because we now have value-based care contracts for more than 100,000 patients. 

Randy Davis. Vice president and CIO at CGH Medical Center (Sterling, Ill.). Our strategies, other than being delayed a bit by COVID-19, have not changed dramatically. We are in the company of other hospitals who were early adopters of EHR technology around the turn of the century. Back then, customization was a selling point. Today, such customization has become a bit of a curse. Our focus over the next 12 to 18 months is to essentially complete a "new install" of our vendor's software. This will let our organization be 'on model' and allow for easier compliance with regulatory issues, as well as keep pace with our vendor’s innovation releases. 

Howard Haile. Vice president and chief information security officer at SCL Health (Broomfield, Colo.). Protecting our data is the highest priority. Organizationally, we will continue to optimize and maximize our current technology investments to reduce complexity, duplication and costs. SCL Health will focus and invest in key programs driving digital transformation, including patient experience and digital front door, expanding our cloud services, Epic optimization and mobile technologies. We will also continue exploring and investing in emerging and innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning throughout 2021 and beyond.


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