The most dangerous trend in health IT from 5 execs

Between cybersecurity threats and building robust IT teams, CIOs and C-suite executives focused on health IT for hospitals and health systems face several challenges today.

However, the biggest danger for hospital and health system CIOs could be latching onto a fleeting fad or becoming distracted from their core mission.

Five health IT leaders from around the nation answer this question: What is the most dangerous trend in health IT today?

Tom Andriola. Vice President and CIO of University of California System (Oakland, Calif.): One need only go look at Gartner's Hype Cycle slide to get a good picture of this. But I'll point to my top two items. First is cybersecurity. There is risk to CIOs that if they let it consume their time and attention, they get branded a risk executive and not an opportunity executive. We've spent 30 years working our way out of that image. Cybersecurity is a risk to the progress we've made. Second is managing the dynamics of hype-versus-reality around artificial and augmented intelligence.

AI is really a collection of technologies and approaches that can bring transformational change to the way healthcare organizations work, interact with patients and partner with the ecosystem. But much like the era of digitization of healthcare that we're nearing the end of — the EMR Era — there is a huge spread between early adopters and laggards, not just in terms of when they adopt, but also in terms of when the organization realizes real value. CIOs have to help their organizations manage through hype-versus-reality cycle, which will likely last a decade.

Peter Marks, PhD. Vice President and CIO of WakeMed (Raleigh, N.C.): I am optimistic about the opportunities in both healthcare and health IT. In healthcare, organizations are all working to change the paradigm to value-based care as the predominant model. The change is not easy, but it is coming. This will be an opportunity to reward providers and payers for keeping patients as healthy as possible. The model is working in many ACOs and other organizations. For health IT, we need to catch up to our business contemporaries in the use of data as a business driver for keeping people healthy. The two opportunities go hand in hand. The future is bright.

Kolaleh Eskandanian, PhD. Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer of Children's National Health System (Washington, D.C.): A 'fad' is the most dangerous phenomenon in any industry, but particularly in healthcare. I think trend is fine, and we have to be sure to differentiate between fad and trend. For instance, in healthcare, we should strive to use data to improve patients' outcome by diagnosing diseases more accurately and early, and to treat diseases with more precision. Use of data also plays a big role in the meaningful engagement of patients. Now, I have been around long enough to see lingos and buzzwords come and go. For example, big data (until not too long ago) and now artificial intelligence, machine learning and digital transformation are tossed around to the extent that some places create positions with these titles. I am a big believer of the architectural principle of 'form follows function.' We can use fad lingos, but we should not lose sight of the intended function.

Evan Jackson. CIO and Vice President of Planning and Business Development at Middlesex Health (Middletown, Conn.): The most dangerous trends in health IT are the countervailing forces which are at the same time: a) facilitating seamless data exchange; and b) the growing mistrust the public has in healthcare providers and payers as stewards of that data. If we cannot convince the public that we are careful with the data and taking thorough steps to protect it, all of the vision, hard work and promise of true data exchange will be for naught. You cannot have a market-driven private system and effect coordination of care and rationalization of care without data sharing. One of those will have to go if we don't satisfy the privacy and security concerns.

Mike Cottle. IS Director at Newton (Kan.) Medical Center: All the hype surrounding blockchain. Blockchain promises are being overstated, and real uses are not getting the attention they deserve. All of this serves to create unnecessary distractions from a CIO's already overflowing plate of tasks and responsibilities.

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