What health tech trends CIOs are focused on in 2023

From increased investments into virtual reality, to being laser focused on IT staffing shortages, here are nine key industry trends and priorities CIOs are looking to address in 2023:

Note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.

1. Staffing shortages: Hospital CIOs report that IT staffing remains a major challenge, as health systems compete with tech companies for employees and budgets are strained by rising salaries.

"The first thing I'm looking at addressing is staffing shortages, retention and burnout," said Darrell Bodnar, CIO of Whitefield, N.H.-based North Country Healthcare. "While this will not be solved for many years to come, I do feel it is being addressed and advancements and innovations over the next year will help improve the situation.  Things such as automation will play heavily in our staffing models of the future." 

2. Walmart, CVS, Amazon and Walgreens: Retail giants like CVS, Amazon and Walgreens are knocking down the door of the healthcare and primary care spaces with multibillion-dollar acquisitions adding healthcare organizations to their offerings.

"Convenience and affordable easy access are being demanded on all fronts," said Mr. Bodnar. "The 'retail' healthcare providers like Walmart, CVS, Amazon and Walgreens are focusing on this, and traditional healthcare organizations need to meet this head on."

3. Continued investments in telehealth and remote care: Mr. Bodnar also said he believes the healthcare industry will see continued advancements and rollouts of technologies specializing in telehealth, remote patient monitoring and artificial intelligence.

4. IT security: As healthcare organizations continue to face an unprecedented amount of cyberattacks, Tom Barnett, chief information and digital officer of Memphis, Tenn.-based Baptist Memorial Health Care, said IT security is his number one priority. 

"The game is not getting any easier and the numbers and tenacity of attackers are always exponentially growing," said Mr. Barnett. "As we've seen too often in the news of late, one vector that becomes compromised can be devastating for a healthcare organization. It stands repeating that IT security has to successfully block every inbound attack, because the bad guys only have to be right once."

5. Data governance: "While we are gathering more and more data as an institution, properly managing and governing the 'meta-data' (meaning the data about data) and agreeing on consistent standards, it is crucial that we are moving quickly into artificial intelligence along with real-time decision making," said Mr. Barnett.

"If you and I are each making decisions but we are using different discrete elements of data that we each believe mean the same thing, we are creating disconnects in the organizations," said Mr. Barnett. "Making sure that 'a' means 'a' and that we are all using it the same way is an important step in any data program."

6. Optimization: "Where I see the focus going across healthcare in 2023 is towards the process optimization that leads to digital success," said Mr. Barnett.

7. Seamless digital experiences: According to Brad Reimer, CIO of Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Sanford Health, his health system is focused on creating more seamless digital experiences to meet its patients' needs and expectations.

8. Cloud-based AI and machine learning solutions: B.J. Moore, CIO of Renton, Wash.-based Providence, said he will be focused on investing in cloud-based artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions that can advance the health system's strategies in equity and value-based care.

9. Virtual reality and augmented reality: Mr. Moore also said there is an emphasis on technology that enables new models of care. These technologies include virtual reality and augmented reality solutions. 

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