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Perspectives from CIOs: Results from Online 2021 IT Priorities Survey

What’s changed for healthcare technology leaders recently? What pain points are keeping CIOs up at night? What hinders day-to-day operations the most?

We conducted an online survey of healthcare executives, all College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) members, asking them six questions about their 2021 IT priorities.

2021 top priorities

Question 1: What are the most critical IT initiatives for your organization in 2021?

More than half of the CIOs surveyed continue to work with tremendous focus on priorities similar to those in 2020. Even today, getting the most out of an EHR platform is the leading priority – whether optimizing, expanding or migrating.

Also, CIOs continue to pursue tactics and strategies that will make progress on patient engagement and consumer technologies and on ways to optimize operations. Driving efficiency in day-to-day operations often results in application rationalization, vendor consolidation, managed services engagements and more.

Biggest challenges

Question 2: What kind of barriers or challenges are most impactful this year?

Hampering the ability for CIOs to make noticeable progress on top priorities are several dominant industry pressures:

  • IT departments are stretched too thin. Healthcare technology leaders have too much to get done with the limited number of resources or limited access to the advanced skillsets they really need to move their healthcare organization forward. Plus, more has to be accomplished on a smaller budget.
  • Organization change is difficult. Leading and shepherding technology change within healthcare organizations continues to be a top- ranking pressure point and productivity concerns about remote workers could be evidence of how difficult it can be for healthcare organizations to adjust to new processes and systems of working.

Greatest opportunities for cost savings and efficiency

Question 3: Where do you see the greatest opportunities for cost savings and efficiency inside your organization?

CIOs responded with these strategies as their number one opportunity to save money and become more efficient:

  • 36% – Application rationalization
  • 26% – Contract consolidation and management
  • 20% – Infrastructure retirement and consolidation

Cloud migration may be considered an emerging technology; only 8% of CIOs ranked it as their leading strategy to save time and money.

Most beneficial area for managed services

Question 4: What areas in your organization are under consideration or would benefit from a managed services delivery model?

The use of managed services is one of the fastest growing models for healthcare CIOs to deliver IT organizations. CIOs see these as top areas for managed services:

  • Cybersecurity (Security Operations Center)
  • Patch management (security, servers, etc.)
  • Help desk

Business and IT alignment

Question 5: Rate the satisfaction/alignment of the IT department to the rest of the business.

What’s working well for most CIOs? Meeting clinical needs and meeting stakeholder expectations scored close to 4 out of 5 stars, though there’s certainly room for improvement.

What’s not working well for most CIOs? Physician satisfaction and addressing patient engagement garnered the lowest scores.

Most valuable advisory services

Question 6: What advisory services would you find most valuable to lead your organization forward?

Although CIOs are accustomed to wearing multiple hats and switching gears from tactical and technical to strategic operator, they recognize a trusted advisor could help. The top choice for help: organizational optimization.

With EHR optimization as the most critical initiative and limited IT bandwidth as the biggest barrier, CIOs are looking for advice on how to get the most out of their healthcare technology teams and applications. In fact, 46% percent of CIOs selected organizational optimization as the number one area where they could use advice.

Resources to help healthcare CIOs move forward

Info-Tech Research Group shares in The Healthcare Services IT Stakeholder Satisfaction Benchmarking Report similar findings about the increasing pressure areas that healthcare CIOs face. Particularly, IT capacity constraints are greater than the norm in healthcare, and investment decisions are increasingly difficult when it comes to navigating the broad IT portfolio.

Our resource library includes a wide variety of materials, and the resources below are related specifically to top priorities of CIOs:

As an IT services provider with a legacy in health system operations, we know first-hand the pressures CIOs face and are ready to talk about ways we can help you and your health system stay focused on what’s most important – delivering quality care to your patients.

* 2021 data is based on responses of 50 CIOs in April 2021.

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