Don’t Sleep. Healthcare CIOs Must Step Into 2021 Now


We are in an era that many would call the post-pandemic aka “new norm”.  Now is the time for healthcare providers to prepare for the trends in healthcare technology for 2021.  Healthcare is the top industry driving the US economy, followed by the technology sector. The intersection of healthcare and technology coupled with the best system implementation experience is a winning combination for the health systems to dominate and stay relevant in the industry. 

Top Initiatives in 2021 and beyond

  1. Top technology initiatives include virtual care, mobile initiatives, and remote patient monitoring. Advancements in telemedicine, virtual care, and robotic surgery will drive down costs while improving access. Virtual care will be the standard and preferred model for care while emerging as the preferred triage source for hospitals. I also expect the direct-to-consumer and direct-to-employer care offering from hospitals will continue to grow.

  2. Foundation technology emerges as a priority with every organization’s expansion strategy. The existing healthcare infrastructure must be upgraded, and it’s not ready for future trends to accommodate the work from anywhere working mode along with virtual care.

  3. Healthcare leaders rethink their physical expansion strategy. Many organizations were planning on expanding their physical footprint to expand the reach of care in their community or region. I expect a change or delay in the plan for many healthcare organizations.  As I had mentioned above, I expect virtual care platforms to dominate the care model in today’s tech-laden world, leaders must understand that patients still expect delivery to be in-person and that the industry requires a personal touch. 

  4. Organizations face enduring effects post COVID-19. Healthcare organizations will work aggressively to return to their pre-COVID-19 revenue.  I expect a new strategy from every healthcare provider to adapt to the changing dynamics of the world.

  5. Operational excellence masks itself as another way to say “cost-cutting.” Given that healthcare represents 18% of the US gross domestic product, government agencies in the United States such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and private insurers have ratcheted down reimbursements. C-suite decision-makers want to redesign their operating models while looking at technology to potentially boost cost savings. These continued cost pressures drive leaders to seek tech leverage.

  6. Focus on value-based programs misses the mark on population health. Organizations and healthcare leaders often don’t use a whole-person approach. Digital transformation shifts priorities from provider-centric approaches to a model focused on patient experiences and patient-centric delivery.

  7. Providers must make strategic cloud ERP decisions. Healthcare provider institutions must begin aggressive enterprise resource planning (ERP) initiatives. Most health systems have an outdated version of their ERP system, forcing them to make a long-term decision with only two options in play: Stick to their current ERP vendor and move to the next-generation cloud ERP solution, or evaluate the cloud ERP market landscape to evaluate a new partnership.

  8. Administrators emphasize clinician satisfaction. Healthcare providers must address the challenges of physician burnout and clinical staffing shortages. Organizations are placing emphasis on clinician satisfaction and reevaluating their technology solution design to ensure that it incorporates clinical design thinking. Automating and integrating disparate clinical systems will eliminate the manual workload on clinicians, leading to better efficiency and use of their time. Health system managers expect that technology automation will help improve clinicians’ job satisfaction by allowing them to work at the top of their skill sets.

  9. Health systems go global. The US health systems are expanding their reach globally as a way to increase patient volume. Medical tourism coming to the U .S . as a destination is still a hot market and an opportunity to increase net revenue. Collaboration and joint ventures across the world will allow prospective international patients the ability to seek the same quality of care from the U .S . in their home countries.

  10. Information security risk exposure tops all priorities. A single person’s personal health information is worth at least 25 times more than a credit card’s information on the black market, turning healthcare organizations into prime targets. A security breach in the US costs almost twice as much compared with other countries, so CIOs must ensure that security exposures don’t affect financial results, or they’ll ruin the brand reputation.

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ABOUT David Chou

David Chou serves as the SVP/CIO for a public academic health system.  Chou has held executive roles with the Cleveland Clinic, Children's Mercy Hospital, University Of Mississippi Medical Center, AHMC Healthcare, and Prime Healthcare.  

David is a dynamic keynote speaker and industry commentator working with clients to transform their business models using technology. He has spoken around the world at healthcare tech-related conference including keynotes for leading industry events and intimate executive settings. Chou is also one of the most mentioned CIOs in the media and well quoted in outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, Modern Healthcare, HIMSS Media, ZDNet, CIO.com, Huffington Post, and Becker's Healthcare.  David is an active member of both ACHE and HIMSS while serving on the board for CHIME. 

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