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Healthcare CIOs Outline Their Headaches and Hopes

Analysis  |  By Mandy Roth  
   July 16, 2020

LexisNexis Risk Solutions' report of CHIME members points to significant challenges including interoperability, cybersecurity, and the need to integrate social determinants of health data.

What are the top priorities for healthcare IT executives? According to a focus group of College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) members, managing interoperability, bolstering cybersecurity, and integrating social determinants of health (SDOH) are their chief concerns.

The annual report, A Clear Vision, But A Long and Winding Road, involved in-depth interviews with 20 CHIME members was conducted by the healthcare division of Atlanta-based LexisNexis Risk Solutions and was conducted before the coronavirus pandemic.

Participants accepted "more accountability than in previous years to provide the safe and reliable technology tools necessary to deliver high-quality, connected, and cost-effective care," according to the report. The executives also pointed to the importance of a team approach with support across the organization in helping CIOs achieve the vision of connected healthcare. Executives reported progress in implementing EHRs, piloting new methods of care, and managing infrastructure through mergers  and acquisitions.

Among other highlights in the report:

  • The proliferation of multiple digital touchpoints, including mobile phones, smart devices, and remote services presents interoperability challenges. For optimal information exchange, participants pointed to a call for a common patient identifier to combine and verify disparate patient records.
  • New cybersecurity risks have resulted in confusion over who bears ultimate responsibility for patient data. In addition, data safety is competing with the need to deliver a seamless user experience. "To address that final challenge and strike an appropriate balance, executives are moving to multifactor authentication strategies for optimal user workflow and security," according to a summary of the report.
  • The need to incorporate SDOH data is vital to support value-based care, and improve patient outcomes. SDOH implementation challenges include data aggregation and operationalization within IT and EHR systems, especially when not utilizing third-party data to support their efforts.

While some of the CHIME members participating in the focus group are ready to embrace the challenges ahead, others pointed to a need to focus on basics. The report quotes one IT executive as saying, "Tech giants are talking about these revolutionary ideas. Meanwhile, we're just trying to make sure we have the correct patient contact information."

Mandy Roth is the innovations editor at HealthLeaders.

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