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Aligning Health IT with Business Goals Is Top CIO Challenge

Aligning health IT with business goals was identified as a top challenge for healthcare and life sciences CIOs, according to the 2019 CIO Survey Report by Grant Thornton and the Technology Business Management Council.

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By Fred Donovan

- Aligning health IT with business goals was identified as a top challenge for healthcare and life sciences CIOs, according to the 2019 CIO Survey Report by Grant Thornton and the Technology Business Management Council.

Other top healthcare CIO challenges included conflicting priorities among stakeholders, lack of time for strategic thinking, stakeholders’ resistance to change, and recruiting and retaining talent.

For the survey, Grant Thornton polled CIOs from a range of industries, with 18 percent coming from healthcare and life sciences.  

“The challenges that healthcare and life sciences CIOs face are very similar to those faced by CIOs in other markets, but they differ in terms of how technology has been integrated into healthcare,” observed LaVerne Council, national managing principal for enterprise technology strategy and innovation at Grant Thornton.

“Technology in healthcare has been behind the queue as it relates to standardization of platforms and other areas, such as exchange of data. The lack of data commonality in healthcare is part of the issue,” Council, who was previously CIO of the Department of Veterans Affairs during the Obama administration, told HITInfrastructure.com.

“What we are seeing in healthcare and life sciences are some of the same challenges around security and around execution and value. In the case of healthcare, that value has a lot to do with the sharing of data between parties so that everyone is talking about the same thing and we can have better outcomes for patients,” Council said. 

According to the survey, the number one challenge for healthcare and life sciences CIOs is conflicting priorities among stakeholders.

“The big issue is you have the payers, providers, patients, policymakers, and other stakeholders, and each of their priorities is different – the kind of information they need and when they need it. It can be very difficult for the providers to understand what they have to anticipate and what they need to be prepared to do,” Council said.

Council added that artificial intelligence could help overcome some of the healthcare IT challenges faced by CIOs. “AI will really make a difference in people's health, in people's recovery, and in finding ways to solve some long-term healthcare issues.”

Across industries, survey participants said that creating and driving an IT strategy that aligns with overall business/agency objectives is one of their top priorities, second to ensuring that IT systems comply with security and regulatory requirements.

Eighty-one percent respondents believe that IT drives innovation or modernization programs, 79 percent think IT has a voice in business/agency strategy and strategic initiatives, and 66 percent believe that their performance should be measured based on execution against strategy and plans.

CIOs are shifting their priorities to meet emerging needs and address gaps. For example, 85 percent of respondents are investing in automation software deployments over the next two years, 83 percent have increased spending on cybersecurity, and 30 percent are currently using data to move from information to insight.

The survey respondents said that the top barriers to addressing cybersecurity threats are the increasing sophistication of threats, emerging technologies, and retaining top-tier talent. Eight-three percent of CIOs said they have increased spending on cybersecurity.

With cyber threats on the rise, 75 percent of respondents said their IT organizations are building cyber security into business strategy, while 50 percent said they understand the effectiveness of these programs or have a cyber-crisis response plan in place.

Three-quarters of CIO said the most important benefit from investing in technology business management is shifting spending to innovation or growth.

“The CIOs we surveyed recognized the importance of serving as a trusted business partner and building and maintaining trust as they improve operations and demonstrate the value of IT. Operating IT as a business in this way not only gives them a seat at the table as a trusted business partner, it allows them to manage their IT organizations efficiently and effectively and enables IT to serve as the backbone of their organization’s success,” the report concluded.


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