Healthcare CIOs have a lot on their plate.

Shrinking budgets, growing workloads and a rapidly changing industry have given rise to new technology challenges related to data security, integration, analytics, consumerization, policy change and patient engagement.

As we move into 2016, which challenges will be a top priority for healthcare CIOs and technology decision makers?

Over the last month we’ve reached out to over 100 leading health IT experts and asked the following question:

“List the top 3 technology challenges you predict healthcare CIOs will face in 2016?”

Here is a quick snapshot:

Top Technology Challenges Facing Healthcare CIOs in 2016
(as voted by 22 experts)

#1: Security (12 votes)
#2: Interoperability (11 votes)
#3: Big data/ analytics (11 votes)
#4: Consumerization of technology (8 votes)
#5: Legacy systems – integration & consolidation (6 votes)


Read on to discover all the technology challenges mentioned by the experts.

[team_member avatar=””][/team_member]#1. Dan Bowman, FierceHealthIT

Health data interoperability: The federal government, the private sector and providers and provider organizations all are working hard to achieve this goal. It’s a complicated issue with many factors, and not as easy as just demanding that electronic health record vendors make their systems talk to one another.

Cybersecurity: This is always a challenge, but especially so in the wake of all of the large payer and provider breaches that have come to light in the last year and a half (think UCLA, Anthem, Premera BlueCross, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield and Community Health Systems).

Patient engagement: Not necessarily a “tech” challenge for CIOs, as the tools are available to interact; but you can’t force patients to use those tools (probably more accurate to call this a cultural challenge).

[team_member avatar=””][/team_member]#2. William Bria, Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems
1. The “king” challenge of our time will be the determination of striking the right balance between “meaningful use” and not just maintaining, but augmenting the clinician-patient connection.

Innumerable articles and presentations have been made regarding the “patient-physician relationship” (or nursing-patient or clinician – patient) and it’s importance to the healing process. While we all love to believe that our clinicians always use the best evidence, it has been well demonstrated that the “caring relationship” has a very important role to play in achieving the goals of better health and patient satisfaction. There is a human element to medicine that has always been essential to achieving the goals of care.

Being a second-generation physician, I watch how many people related to my father, the first Italian doctor in our town, and inspired me to such an extent that I NEVER thought of any other career than medicine.

2. For most of us (thank goodness) the time spent in a hospital forms a small part of our healthcare lives. Its past time that PATIENT AND FAMILY centered information technology is designed, implemented and made widely available for closing the key loop in realizing the value of information tools in service of better health for all Americans.

Seamless connection to the healthcare system will yield benefits we can only dream of at this time.

3. Last but not least, with the availability of information (properly handled) for all Americans, will create the opportunity for an entirely new and vastly better form of “evidence based healthcare research” that could yield better and more effective new treatments and care strategies creating a revolution in evidence based medicine.

[team_member avatar=””][/team_member]#3. Drex DeFord, Healthcare Information Services Consultant
I’ve had a long career in healthcare — previously CIO at Scripps Health (San Diego), Seattle Children’s, and Steward Healthcare (Boston). I’m now an industry advisor and consultant, and I’ve been on a CIO-Barnstorming tour the last couple of months, from New York-to-LA and all points in between. Here’s three of the hottest tech issues on CIO’s minds right now:

1. Security tops the list, with everyone concerned about the breech target painted on healthcare’s back right now. The CEO, the Board, and patients are asking questions about this topic, and CIOs feel the pressure.

2. Analytics would be at the top of most lists too — CIOs are putting together a mashup of databases and applications to try and cover a growing desire by their clinical and business partners to help them make faster fact-based decisions.

3. Interoperability would also be near the peak of the heap. We’re working with so many different applications from so many vendors inside our own organizations, AND now we’re creating Accountable Care Organizations and other business relationships that depend on data-sharing. Getting everyone and everything to play together nicely is a challenge to say the least.

[team_member avatar=””][/team_member]#4. Rasu Shrestha, UPMC Enterprises
1. Data interoperability & analytics
2. Information security and privacy
3. Payment reform ‘innovation’

[team_member avatar=””][/team_member]#5. Indranil Ganguly, JFK Health
1. Finding ways to leverage mobile devices to provide access to tools and caregivers in a way that is convenient and useful to the consumer.
2. Helping clinicians collect and interpret the data needed to enable effective population health management.
3. Ensuring the effective sharing of patient data in the absence of well defined patient matching methodologies.

[team_member avatar=””][/team_member]6. Linda Stotsky, LogicNets
1. Interoperability – This continues to be an ongoing issue for HealthIT vendors and healthcare consumers. Sharing critical information outside the physical walls of the health system, (and the software limitations of the EHR), is critical to ongoing success of HealthIT.

The ability to provide variable reports, based on the needs of the receiving entity, will move the needle forward in 2016.

2. Real Time Access – It is critical that patients and providers alike are able to access real time health information, securely, via any web enabled device

3. Usability – Clinical Information Systems must work the way clinicians do, within the workflow and time constraints of the end user.

Role based customization is necessary for all roles within the health care enterprise. Information must be available, securely accessible, and in real time, from any device, without additional delays or multiple page views. Alerts must be minimized and the information presented needs to align to the needs of the user. In other words, logical steps must be followed in a process, allowing protocols to run “behind the scenes” with reduced disruption to the physician and clinician. If information is in any system, it should pre-populate forms and assessments.

Much of the busy work today can be automated with smart navigation- this will become critical as we move into 2016. A system must adapt to the needs of the end user. This means the design must conform to the needs of the expert users.

We are finished with “one size fits all“.

[team_member avatar=””][/team_member]7. Dwight Pond, Trinity Health
1. Consumerization of technology.
2. IT becoming a business facing service partner.
3. People change management – users embracing the technology implemented.

[team_member avatar=””][/team_member]8. Brian Sterud, Faith Regional Health Services
1. Adaptation to a value based world and the corresponding data challenges.
2. Enhanced security needs without compromising usability of systems.
3. Continued navigation of the Meaningful Use program.

[team_member avatar=””][/team_member]9. Steve Sisko, Shimcode
1. Deploying omnichannel customer service capabilities.
2. Preventing security breaches and managing them when they occur.
3. Merging clinical data with claims/administrative data for value based reimbursement.

[team_member avatar=””][/team_member]10. Daniel Barchi, Chief Information Officer at New York Presbyterian
Health systems have invested significant capital into EMR and other healthcare IT over the past ten years. Now is the time for us to start reaping the benefits of this investment. Healthcare IT needs to produce actionable data that supports clinicians and helps us deliver better care to our patients.

In 2016, key areas of focus are:

1. Data interoperability – sharing patient data with other health systems and physician practices
2. Technology alignment – maximizing the use of existing tools and reducing the number of standalone apps
3. Clinical analytics – turning data into meaningful information for patient care

[team_member avatar=””][/team_member]11. Barry Caplin, Fairview
1. Security!
2. Variation and legacy systems.
3. Medical/embedded devices.

[team_member avatar=””][/team_member]12. Bill Swavely, Infobionic
1) Security and risk – especially with latest HITECH draft.
2) Real applications of Big Data – Machine Learning/Deep Learning.
3) Agility of execution in an increasingly regulated environment – will need to adopt more DevOps and Agile development.

[team_member avatar=””][/team_member]13. Albert Villarin, Burwood Group, Inc. 
Interoperability deficits | End-user dissatisfaction with poorly developed clinical GUI | Overwhelming mandated clinical data collection reducing clinician-patient relationships | Technology gap between vendor platforms required to meet MU3 and clinical workflows necessary for advanced patient-centric care | Major infusion of third-party integration vendors supporting EMR functionality : clinical decision support – scribing – data analytics – population health management.

[team_member avatar=””][/team_member]14. Daniel Sands,
1. Security
2. Health information exchange
3. Moving care beyond health care facilities (non-visit-based care, frequent light touches, home monitoring, patient-generated health data, etc.)

[team_member avatar=””][/team_member]15. Chad Johnson, Corepoint Health
1. Interoperability: To fully reap the rewards of the new quality healthcare model, CIOs and their staff will need the ability to get full control of all data generated within their IT environment.
2. Ability to quickly scale to meet growing demands for health data: The demand for data is at an all-time high thanks to the quantity of applications in use and healthcare mergers and acquisitions.
3. Data Quality: As analytics matures in healthcare, the quality of the data is a must for the promise of “big data” to become reality.

[team_member avatar=””][/team_member]16. Eddie Neville, CIO Oregon Government Hospital
Our biggest challenges in health IT are the following:

1. Consolidating from many EHRs down to 1 or to all encompassing.
2. Going from a locally hosted model to a cloud hosted model.
3. Integrating IT costs through an ROI analytics tool & with Finance.

[team_member avatar=””][/team_member]17. Rich Lamberti, Defense Centers of Excellence
1. Cloud storage and security.
2. Big Data.
3. Making technology available in the field to first responders on the front line under fire.

[team_member avatar=””][/team_member]18. David Chou, DChou Group
1. IT Security.
2. Data Analytics.
3. Digital Health Disruption.

I believe healthcare CIOs will spend a lot of time on IT security to upgrade their legacy infrastructure and applications. The challenge will be how do you secure your organization whether it is upgrading hardware or firewalls without having any major business disruptions.

Secondly, every healthcare organizations wants to be a data driven organization so the CIOs will have to work on bring together all of the stakeholders to figure out the data analytics strategy. Every healthcare organizations have more data than they can imagine, but the challenge is bringing the disparate data from various data sources to solve healthcare problems.

Third, everything is moving towards a digital world and healthcare is playing catch up. The CIO must work closely with with the business to put together the digital technology that is aligned to the strategy.

Consumerism will start driving healthcare technology and the CIO must start adapting to meet the needs of the patient/consumer in 2016.

[team_member avatar=””][/team_member]19. Dale Sanders, Health Catalyst
1. Creating an effective analytics and data warehousing strategy for population health management and value based reimbursement contracts.
2. Optimizing the investment in EHRs/EMRs to support clinical quality and embedded clinical decision support, not billing.
3. Meeting the growing demand for clinical data sharing while at the same time being constrained by the poor document-centric design of HIEs and poor user interface design of EHRs/EMRs.

[team_member avatar=””][/team_member]20. Paul Roemer, Pale Rhino Consulting
1. Driving healthcare consumerism–providing patient and consumer access when, where, and how people want.
2. Understanding the value of an interactive customer portal over a patient portal.
3. Implementing a fully functional CRM for inbound calls.

[team_member avatar=””][/team_member]21. Brian Thomas, CIO at Swope Health Services
1. Integration
2. Security
3. Resourcing

[team_member avatar=””][/team_member]22. Manish Sharma, Founder HCITExpert Forum
1. Cybersecurity
2. Interoperability
3. Cloud enablement

Are you facing similar challenges in your ogranization? We can help.