Wondering what priorities and pressures other CIOs are facing? You may not be alone in trying to balance all of the must-dos. Take a look at the results from an online survey* of healthcare executives, all CHIME (College of Healthcare Information Management Executives) members, conducted by CereCore in March 2023.
The survey asked healthcare IT leaders about top initiatives, most significant challenges, biggest opportunity for improvement, and topics like technical debt, staffing, and cost containment. Check out part 1 of the results recap and takeaways, including anecdotal comments, trends over time, and takeaways.
Peeling back the layers of the results, consider these top five concerns and possible ways that managed services can help.
1. Reduce the risk of cybersecurity
When asked to rank the three most important areas of improvement in their healthcare IT organization, 72% of CIOs said reducing the risk of cybersecurity was first priority.
Sese Bennett, virtual chief information security officer for CereCore, advises clients to consider completing a Business Impact Assessment (BIA) to help you prepare for worst-case scenarios. The BIA can help you analyze the security risks most imperative for a service line, help you assess the consequences should a disruption occur, and help you gather the information needed to develop recovery strategies.
Other strategies to reduce the risk of cybersecurity often tie back to infrastructure and network health.
Bennett emphasizes using strong access controls and limiting access to the network as much as possible while monitoring systems and networks. This step enables hospitals to discover anomalies within the network.
Managed services strategy: Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) often lack time and bandwidth for strategic planning and goals. Outsourcing functions such as IT support services, routine network monitoring and alerting can lead to more efficient security operations and reduce risk of an incident going undetected.
2. Improve or modernize infrastructure and scale IT operations
More than half of CIOs surveyed reported improvements in infrastructure and scale as second in priority when it comes to improving healthcare IT:
The 2022 Digital Health Most Wired (DHMW) Infrastructure Trend Report cited that many DHMW organizations were “making infrastructure upgrades to increase their flexibility and capability to provide care anywhere and improve workflow and operational efficiencies.” Clay Posey, assistant vice president, technical services at CereCore, went on to share in that report that while it’s one thing to have the infrastructure tools, infrastructure management must be built into processes and executed upon regularly.
Often improving infrastructure or scaling an IT organization for future growth is not something a health system can do alone. Instead, having a strategic managed services partner with a healthcare focus can be key.
Varun Gadhok, chief information officer, Surgery Partners, shares his approach to scaling an IT organization, “Sometimes as an organization you have to take a step back and evaluate your core competencies. Should we develop it or leverage a partner who has already solved for this and can do it at scale? Doing that can help us focus on areas we do want to be our core competencies.” Gadhok explains more of his strategy for using IT managed services as a foundation to support company growth in this episode on The CereCore Podcast.
Communication with stakeholders about how improving networks and replacing aging hardware effect application stability and in turn hospital operations can be vital in demonstrating the return on investment in IT infrastructure and scalability.
Managed services strategy: Outsourcing the management and maintenance of 24/7 IT operations is similar to a model that healthcare organizations have used for other functions like laundry, food service and surgical equipment. Newfound capacity from partial or full IT outsourcing makes it possible for IT teams to move forward on strategic projects and have satisfied care providers.
3. Managing technical debt
The 2023 CHIME CIO survey gives us new data about an age-old challenge.
McKinsey has defined technical debt as “the off-balance sheet accumulation of all the technology work a company needs to do in the future.” The article goes on to propose that “improving your tech-debt position helps to direct technology resources toward initiatives that increase revenue.”
Technical debt seems to be a prevalent topic in the healthcare IT industry today, and 67% of health IT leaders surveyed agreed that technical debt was a concern for their organization. Only 22% said technical debt was not a concern and 11% were unsure.
For those who have their eye on tech debt, 36% are most concerned about its effect on projects, deadlines and scope creep, which increases cost. Other notable concerns included
Of those surveyed, 15 health leaders reported they had taken preventive measures such as these to offset the impact of technical debt:
Managed services strategy: Enabling engineers to focus on development can be another by-product of partial or full healthcare IT outsourcing. When it comes to maintain an EHR or improving speed to market for upgrades and optimization projects, consider tapping into the expertise of an EHR implementation partner.
4. Addressing staffing challenges: top strategies
When it comes to having the right people and skillsets to accomplish key IT initiatives, the majority of healthcare IT executives are turning to staff augmentation and hiring a contractor for specific, short-term projects. More than half of CIOs have contracted with a partner for partial IT outsourcing as a way to scale their IT team. The survey data reports these options as top strategies for mitigating IT staffing shortages:
Managed services strategy: Compare the pros and cons of alternate IT staffing models in this ebook Managed Services versus Staffing Decision Guide.
5. Driving cost savings and efficiency
What areas are other CIOs exploring in order to drive cost savings and efficiency inside their health systems? The online CIO survey reports the following:
Managed services strategy: Consider performing a total cost comparison which analyzes IT infrastructure, third party software, versioning and licensing, disaster recovery plans and more. Evaluate your current infrastructure so you can build a strategic roadmap and a strong technology foundation for the future.
*The 2023 online survey and the data reported is based on responses from 27 healthcare executives, all CHIME members, sponsored by CereCore.
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CereCore® provides IT services that make it easier for you to