Survey: Majority of Health IT Execs Feel Behind the Curve on Digital Health

Nearly two-thirds of healthcare providers rate themselves as being behind the curve on their digital health initiatives, citing clinician resistance and interoperability issues as the top barriers.

On behalf of Unisys Corp., HIMSS recently surveyed 220 IT decision makers at U.S. hospitals and health systems and asked them to rank their organization based on how they are leveraging digital and mobile technologies to improve the patient experience, lower the cost of care delivery and improve clinician/staff efficiencies.

They were then rated as being ahead of the curve (early adopters/early majority) or behind the curve (late majority/laggards). Of those surveyed, 64 percent rated themselves as being behind the curve, including 20 percent who were rated as laggards. Only 11 percent of organizations were rated as early adopters when it came to adoption and implementation of digital technologies.

When asked about the barriers to advancing digital health initiatives, ‘behind the curve’ respondents cited challenges starting with clinician resistance to adopting new solutions (51 percent) and difficulties integrating legacy systems with new digital/mobile technologies (50 percent). Availability of skilled IT staff (48 percent) and the identification/remediation of cybersecurity threats (45 percent) were also cited as challenges.

The survey also looked at the key initiatives that digital health technologies support. Only 16 percent of laggards had a comprehensive data governance plan, and only 9 percent of laggards said their organization was able to successfully apply data to determine the best course of action, compared to 83 percent and 78 percent of early adopters, respectively. Additionally, only 13 percent of laggards said that their medical devices could securely communicate with electronic health records.

My Favorite Health IT Quotes of 2018

Covering the healthcare informatics beat can be challenging, but it has its perks, one of which is the opportunity to interview genuinely impressive clinical and business leaders who are working to solve some of the thorniest issues in healthcare. I remind myself that I am lucky to be able to e-mail CIOs, CMIOs and entrepreneurs with interview requests and they almost always make time to talk to me. Each December I look back over the interviews I have done and presentations I have seen that year and pull out my 10 favorite quotes. Standing on their own, apart from the context of a full article, they can be thought-provoking.

Farzad Mostashari, M.D., CEO of Aledade Inc. and former national coordinator for health IT: “I needed to either find or create someplace in healthcare where keeping someone healthy and out of the hospital is more profitable than waiting until they get sick and then treating them. Then we would have the right business model for all the tools I have been working for 15 years to build and get rolled out.” Colin Banas, M.D., VCU Health System’s chief medical information officer: “I am reminded of a quote from one of our senior leaders. She even puts it at the bottom of her meeting minutes. It says, ‘In God we trust. Everyone else must bring data.’” Boston Children’s Hospital CIO Daniel Nigrin, M.D.: “The platform was burning, and the board of trustees was willing to expend the money to pay for it all. They all of a sudden recognized the risk.” Nigrin was describing how he used the 2014 Anonymous distributed denial of service attack on his hospital as an opportunity to push through four or five key security initiatives when he had everyone’s attention. Jonathan Baran, Healthfinch CEO: “When we started, it was a foreign concept to have an app store for the EHRs. Now we have seen widespread adoption of this model across all the major EHRs.They now think about themselves as platforms and open marketplaces where people like us can build technology on top of APIs that allow us to integrate our technology into the workflow.” Timothy Peck, M.D., formerly chief resident in the Emergency Department at Beth Israel Deaconess/Harvard, and co-founder of Call9: “We are spending money on hurting patients.” Peck was explaining that the two-thirds of transfers from nursing homes to emergency departments that are avoidable re