The biggest IT threat to health systems goes beyond cyberattacks

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A few years ago, many healthcare IT executives would have considered cyberattacks to be among the top threats for their organizations.

While ransomware attacks and cybersecurity are still top of mind, new issues are boiling up from the IT perspective as the top threat for hospitals and health systems. CIOs and technology leaders are now more cognizant than ever of their role in helping their organizations lower costs and deliver value-based care. How technology evolves to improve the patient experience as retailers and big tech companies move into the healthcare space is another potential competitive threat.

Here are six hospital and health system IT executives answering the question: What is the biggest potential threat to your organization for 2020?

Leo Bodden. Vice President and CTO of NewYork-Presbyterian: Disruption, for me, is a major concern. Healthcare has not been disrupted, unlike every other industry on the planet. After every disruptive event, the organizations in the industries disrupted cease to exist as they were. I see that as a major concern. As an industry, we've been protected and insulated from competition and from new entrants into the market due to regulation; that same regulation kept the industry from evolving and moving as fast as tech moves.

As technology evolves, it is becoming easier for new groups to enter the healthcare market. On one side, we see competition from hospitals that are providing services across state lines as tech makes it possible to get close to patients without being physically adjacent. You have urgent care centers popping up everywhere. We also have a political landscape that makes it easy for everyone to go after healthcare.

Technology companies, whether you are talking about Apple, Google, Amazon or startups – they are also getting into the healthcare space. We have to pay attention to what these potential disruptors are doing and respond appropriately if we are to remain relevant in years to come.

Phyllis Teater. CIO of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center (Columbus, Ohio): The most visible threats come in the cybersecurity space. Those threats are very real and we spend a lot of energy on them, as do all organizations in today's climate. But a bigger long term threat is how we prepare for the future of healthcare and for the change to value from the fee-for-service world. What you wish for is that the healthcare industry would pick a day to change from fee-for-service to value-based care and have one big go-live and be done; that is not the way it works.

For us, the biggest threat is that our timing or preparation is not in line with the speed at which the industry is changing. We need to pay attention to our value proposition and make sure it's in line with market changes.

Tamara Havenhill-Jacobs. CIO of Bozeman (Mont.) Health: We consistently believe that the biggest threat is the cost of healthcare itself. As we look at all the initiatives that we have, we are going to continue to build and focus our organization so that our core mission is improving community health and quality of life in everything that we are doing as we seek to provide value-based care so we can take on risk-based contracts. Our biggest competitor at all times is the cost of healthcare.

Kristin Darby. CIO of Envision Healthcare (Nashville, Tenn.): Our biggest challenge, and opportunity, is the evolving healthcare landscape. Throughout the years, we have grown with and adapted to the changing healthcare environment, and this ability has enabled us to be a leader in healthcare. As we enter 2020, we must continue to strike the appropriate balance between executing the immediate operational imperatives and driving the innovative work that will shape the future of our organization and advance the delivery of care.

Jeffrey Sturman. Senior Vice President and CIO of Memorial Healthcare System (Hollywood, Fla.): Security continues to be an area of focus for us. We have a very sound and focused security program. My two major priorities there are security around PHI and business, and an overall disaster recovery/business continuity program. The biggest threat will continue to be and has been security and ensuring our systems are secure. We don't want our patients to be compromised, so we have the right tools and technology in place to protect us. Our system also does a lot of education around preventing cyberattacks.

Secondly, this isn't a threat around technology, but we are seeing the level of competition increase and non-traditional players like payers, Walgreens and CVS are creating new ways to access healthcare in our area. Everyone is trying to find new avenues to create more patient access, and we are looking to potential partnerships or technology to help us increase our access points and ultimately engaging our consumers where and how they want

Jason Williams. CIO of CHA Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center (Los Angeles): New adventures can be daunting for all of us and one challenge will be getting everyone to adopt and learn new systems. We are ready to tackle the challenge with education so that our clinical force has a smooth onboarding to adopt quickly to positively impact patient experience.


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