Top 5 health IT issues, according to CIOs

Staffing and cybersecurity are among the biggest challenges hospital CIOs face in 2022, 12 health system executives told Becker's.

Becker's asked hospital technology leaders for their three most-pressing health IT issues. Of the 16 topics mentioned, the following five were noted most (and are ranked in order of the number of mentions):

1. Staffing

"Talent is an area we see a ton of pressure," said Kathy Azeez-Narain, chief digital officer of Newport Beach, Calif.-based Hoag. "Everyone is competing for the top talent to come into IT/digital roles. The offers from pay to benefits to perks have been expansive, which makes it a very competitive space when trying to recruit the 'A' team."

2. Cybersecurity

"The known and unknown threats combined with the implications of an attack are an ever-present challenge," said Michael Restuccia, senior vice president and CIO of Philadelphia-based Penn Medicine.

3. Making IT stress-free

"Nurses, doctors, therapists, lab techs, pharmacists — basically, everyone who works in the field — are all exhausted and on the receiving end of a lot of animosity," said Joel Klein, MD, senior vice president and CIO of Baltimore-based University of Maryland Medical System. "We have to find ways to make the computer part of their day less taxing — any less friction is an improvement."

4. Innovation

"The pandemic proved how valuable and effective virtual care can be as part of our patient care offerings," said Michael Pfeffer, MD, CIO and associate dean for technology and digital solutions at Stanford Health Care and School of Medicine in Palo Alto, Calif. "Our prior investments in virtual care allowed us to ramp up virtual visits very quickly at the beginning of the pandemic and sustain significant growth. Going forward, we see virtual healthcare and remote monitoring technology playing a large role in enhancing the patient experience, driving better outcomes and increasing access to healthcare."

5. Embracing technology

"IT is transitioning from a technology enabler to a strategic partner, and as our role in the C-suite changes we must be cognizant of the impact that we can have on creating a healthy population," said James Wellman, chief digital and information officer of Findlay, Ohio-based Blanchard Valley Health System. "We must embrace this digital revolution and develop our teams to meet these new opportunities — or fall behind."

More challenges

Other topics that received multiple votes include the supply chain — "We are on a 12-month waiting list for wireless access points," said Debra Carpenter, PhD, CIO of Tri-State Memorial Hospital in Clarkston, Wash. — as well as interoperability, digital health disruption and the complexity of health IT.

"The ever-expanding portfolio of applications and the integration needed to deliver services to patients — and at the same time improve user experience for the clinicians and other employees — is becoming more complex, expensive and, frankly, unmanageable," said Ash Goel, MD, senior vice president and chief information and informatics officer for Bronson Healthcare Group in Kalamazoo, Mich.

"This requires a rethink of how traditional healthcare technology investments are made. Larger organizations have the ability to pivot by resourcing, creating cross-industry technology partnerships and investing in a wholesale shift to a platform approach. Midsized and small organizations are going to be challenged to do the same."

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