Consumerization, cybersecurity among key challenges for hospital IT execs in 2016

Increased consumerization, business challenges and cybersecurity all will be top of mind for leaders in the health IT industry in 2016, several professionals who serve on FierceHealthIT's Editorial Advisory Board say.

"Call it meaningful execution," says Aaron Miri, CIO at Dallas-based Walnut Hill Medical Center. "The ever-increasing clinical demand and customer expectation versus the finite resource management and capacity that's available."

Linda Reed, vice president and CIO at Morristown, New Jersey-based Atlantic Health System, agrees, saying that based on conversations with colleagues across the board, the use of business intelligence and analytics--which includes "finding the right people and using the right tools for managing risk, population health, anticipating value-based purchasing metrics and penalties, quality and safety"--will be a key theme in the coming year.

"Personally," she adds, "the expectation that IT can keep doing more with less, faster and more securely is the great challenge."

Joseph Kvedar, vice president of connected health at Boston-based Partners HealthCare, says consumerization of the provider industry is a fact of life that cannot be ignored, particularly as more patients become connected.

"The Internet of Healthy Things--with everyday objects capturing and using real-time biometric data to ultimately change behavior to improve our health--is real and has longevity," Kvedar tells FierceHealthIT. "Virtual visits will become a mainstay of healthcare delivery."

What's more, he says, such innovations will drive increased "comparison shopping" by patients.

"We will see individuals ... expect 'always on, always available' service from their care providers," Kvedar says.

Still, information security remains an overarching concern. Donna Staton, CIO at Fauquier Health System in Warrenton, Virginia, says that a "delicate balance" exists between providing access to and securing information.

James Bender, medical director of health information at Seattle-based Virginia Mason Medical Center, agrees, pointing out that such a balance, as well as "push-button access" to patient records raises "fundamental questions of responsibility" about what data should be available under varying circumstances, particularly as the definition of such records evolves from what a doctor records to the total of a patient's experience.