The healthcare industry began to breathe again in early 2022. As the environment became more stable, IT investments increased and organizations further integrated telemedicine into the care delivery model. CIOs resurrected backlogged investments in IT and started addressing high priority items, and CISOs continued their daily challenges fighting the ‘out of control’ cyberattacks. However, the recent economic downturn has slowed the pace of activities and the investment outlook remains uncertain for 2023. Once again, healthcare IT leaders will need to call upon their creative genius in order to balance the need for increased technology investment as a way to solve healthcare IT challenges.
Top challenges for CIOs
In the year ahead, I believe these three challenges will demand the attention of CIOs and require continued IT investment:
While addressing the trends above are critical for establishing a solid foundation for innovation, we should keep an eye on machine learning, artificial intelligence, and precision medicine, because they will be agents that push digital transformation forward, too. Of course, cybersecurity takes priority and demands vigilance when it comes to reducing the risk of an attack and reinforcing detection and response plans to prepare for cybersecurity threats.
A closer look: 2023 healthcare IT trends
1. Cloud. As discussed in the 2022 trends forecast, cloud migration accelerated post-pandemic to achieve high availability, easy access, and more. However, cloud migrations are not easy but present a unique set of challenges like these:
None of these are deal breakers and they certainly do not take away from the justification to move to the cloud for strategic reasons. However, these complexities need to be considered carefully to avoid surprises when calculating the total cost of ownership (TCO).
2. Analytics. Analytics really encompass distinct types of activities:
3. Alliances. Outsourcing became a craze in the 80s and 90s until companies began to realize it did not work for all cases. We observed some common pitfalls with traditional outsourcing arrangements for both parties:
All in all, these challenges didn’t leave a good impression on the industry and the demand for outsourcing started to cool. As a result, CIOs started building up their local IT teams with resources and systems to accommodate insourcing. However, this created duplicate organizations across the industry at every healthcare system. Multiple help desk environments, shared services support organizations and if you happened to have one of the primary EHR vendors, an army of support team members.
CFOs were dismayed but didn’t have enough knowledge to find alternatives. The labor shortages post-pandemic has brought the discipline of outsourcing back into focus.
Today, organizations are smarter about outsourcing, and they are looking at flexible staffing models that are more tailored to their needs. Several key factors make the modern flexible staffing model different:
4. Cybersecurity. So what do all of these trends seem to have in common? Moving data centers to the cloud. Using internal and external data for analytics. Increasing interactions with external companies. (Don’t forget trends from previous years like more online interactions with patients through telemedicine and patient portals, etc.) All of these trends mean one thing: More opportunities for exposure and for the bad actors to take advantage of healthcare data.
In 2023, we will continue to see increased investment in cybersecurity in the following areas:
Although many cloud platform providers offer certain cybersecurity services as part of their package, those alone will not be sufficient. Healthcare organizations must continue to invest in cybersecurity tools and processes. A trend that has perhaps gone unnoticed for too long is the stress and burnout experienced by many cybersecurity professionals and chief information security officers (CISOs).
Bottom line: Cloud, analytics and alliances are HIT trends that hold the promise of more reliable, useful, and scalable technology. Change in technology should not be taken lightly but carefully evaluated for the benefit it delivers to healthcare providers, care teams, patients and communities. Some trends come and go, but those technologies that remain true to the tenets of helping ensure patient safety and delivering quality patient care are worth a closer look.