IT leaders prioritizing patient experience, value-based care in 2019, survey finds

Ramping up value-based care initiatives and improving the patient experience are top priorities for health IT leaders in 2019, a recent survey found.

At the same time, IT executives say they are facing significant technology and operational hurdles to advance these initiatives. Half of the executives surveyed cited the ongoing lack of system interoperability as the biggest challenge.

Stoltenberg Consulting’s survey of 300 healthcare executives—a third of survey participants were clinical IT professionals and another third were C-suite leaders—revealed that 42% of executives cited updating technology to improve the patient experience as their top objective in 2019, followed by measuring improvement in patient care (33%).

Survey participants consisted of executives from a variety of provider facilities, including health systems, standalone hospitals, physician practices and other ambulatory care facilities.

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About half of executives view value-based care as the most significant, pressing topic in healthcare this year, followed by artificial intelligence (26%) and cybersecurity (20%).

Artificial intelligence was cited as the biggest topic in the 2018 survey. External industry disruptors, such as Google or Amazon, are just starting to edge into the limelight, with 9% identifying it as an industry hot topic.

However, 63% of healthcare leaders said they feel “unprepared” or “very unprepared” to manage and execute effective IT operations within their healthcare facilities based on the current IT training offered at their organizations.

Leveraging meaningful patient data is the largest overall hurdle for health IT teams in 2019, according to the survey, followed closely by ineffective IT or EHR operations (29%). Other IT challenges healthcare executives identified were protecting the privacy and security of patient information (20%) and managing IT staffing fatigue and shortages (19%).

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IT leaders also view the lack of system interoperability as the biggest operational burden hindering their organizational priorities in 2019, followed by rising overhead and staff costs (17%), financial reimbursements (15%) and EHR burnout or reporting burden (14%).

Stoltenberg Consulting offers three tips to health IT leaders to address these challenges:

  • Realistically strategize application of value-based care initiatives: As a first step, organizations should assemble a cross-disciplinary team to assess their current organizational environment, define internal IT staff support capabilities, determine their desired state, and develop a year-over-year roadmap to strategize and track against their value-based care goals. 
  • Use interoperability as the foundation for transformational advancements: Organizations that drive greater integration and analytics of IT systems and data across provider facilities—and extend that integration even to patients at home—will find themselves better positioned to meet these challenges head-on.
  • Consider creative alternatives to address workforce challenges: To strengthen training programs, healthcare organizations should first prioritize their goals, then map them to current and projected skillset gaps. What does the healthcare organization’s current workforce look like, and what will it look like in three years? Use this insight to invest in innovative training approaches that keep staff up-to-date and engaged. In addition, healthcare organizations can ease staffing pain points with a targeted outsourcing strategy to maximize efficiency and maintain support levels, whether for strategic support to integrate new systems, daily operational assistance, or modernizing the traditional help desk.