7 predictions from health IT execs about what lies ahead in 2020

PHOENIX—As chief health information officers from around the country gathered in Phoenix this week, the conversations centered on everything from early clinical successes using artificial intelligence to evolving cybersecurity threats and what's ahead for virtual and precision medicine.

It was all part of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) Fall CIO Forum this week, which focused on the future of healthcare and innovation.

So we asked CHIME19 attendees to take out their crystal balls to predict what's ahead for healthcare and health IT in 2020. Here are seven predictions for trends that could impact your business in the next year:

  • Consumerism: "There is going to be more focus on consumerism and how to meet patients where they are outside the four walls of the hospital. And there will be a focus on meeting the technology demands to accomplish that. Amazon set the standard for consumer expectations, and that’s a new challenge for what IT has to deliver."
    — Jennifer Stemmler, account IT executive, innovation and strategy at Adventist Health
  • "Medicare for All": "There will be a tremendous amount of attention paid to Medicare for all (or not), healthcare billing transparency and how we get data to patients that is understandable and usable by that patient without ever ignoring the challenge of cybersecurity."
    — Liz Johnson, R.N., former chief innovation officer at Tenet Healthcare; vice-chair, CHIME Policy Steering Committee
  • Help for clinicians: "Information officers at hospitals and health systems have a desire to understand what happens ‘in the day of a doctor’ and the challenges they experience with their EHRs. This technology is expensive with health delivery organizations spending hundreds of millions of dollars on it. And the physicians are spending hours each day entering information, which adds to their feelings of stress and burnout. Those responsible for acquiring and integrating technologies are now realizing that additional solutions exist to help physicians improve their daily workflows and alleviate stress and burden. By adopting these solutions, I predict that more health systems and hospitals will realize a positive return on their EHR investments, and have happier clinicians as a result."
    — Doug Cusick, president and CEO of TransformativeMed

  • Robots: "Robotic process automation (RPA) is going to become a hot topic. I think we’re going to start seeing some really good case studies that show a business benefit. Healthcare is slow to adopt any technology and other industries are using it very successfully with a good return on investment. RPA is more a fundamental capability that we can add to what we’re already doing and make a difference by automating repetitive work or enhancing the work that people are already doing."
    — Patty Lavely, principal consultant, CIO Consulting
  • Actual impact from AI: "Time and time again, AI industry buzz has created ‘hero-like’ expectations, only to deliver a disappointing reality check to hospital CIOs a year later. In 2020 I expect to see a resurgence of interest in artificial intelligence but with new hope. We’ve proven AI can be safe and impactful in small, faithful ways, providing much greater impact than those attention-grabbing ‘hero’ endeavors ever could. When AI saves 10 seconds on something you do five times with every patient, every day, the ripple effect means more patients can be seen that day. AI will prove a useful tool when it delivers freedom from the repetitive, menial tasks that take clinician attention away from direct patient care."
    — David Sellars, principal of product innovations at DrFirst
  • New uses for big data: "Analytics will continue to be hot, but in a different way. People are getting serious about their approach and we're now going to see actual traction with executives creating the organizational skills and structures to have a functional analytics department. And there's the concept of virtual medicine and people are trying to figure out what that is—whether it's telemedicine or a mobile or app strategy. In the next year, we'll see people defining what their strategy is and starting to execute on something; we'll see a rationalization in that marketplace."
    — Pete Smith, CEO, Impact Advisors 

  • Harder questions from health systems: "Healthcare organizations have spent a lot of time and money implementing technologies and they've done it expeditiously. When reimbursement is declining or there is ambiguity in the market, people start to question value. That is going to continue. We're going to see healthcare organizations taking a hard look at technology platforms and the processes that support it to make sure they are getting the benefit they thought they were going to get." 
    — Andrew Smith, president, Impact Advisors