July 7, 2021 | Net Health

5 min read

The Healthcare CIO of the Future

It’s certainly an exciting time to be a healthcare CIO, and an even more exciting time just to be alive. As we start to see the growth and adoption of new technology, big data, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning, the entire landscape of how we treat and meet the needs of patients is changing.

And with those changes, the role of the healthcare CIO is changing too. In a recent webinar,  The Modern Healthcare CIO, Dwight Raum, CIO of Johns Hopkins shared what he believes are five critical items healthcare CIOs must address to keep their organization on the cutting edge of the changing times. 

1. Trust and Privacy

Data is the fuel we need that powers the intelligence we derive from artificial intelligence and machine learning. It’s unfortunate, though, where we are as a nation right now in terms of data collection. When you look at how big tech and social media have collected data, often with the unwitting consent of their users, it’s not conducive to growth or user buy-in.

It’s imperative that we maintain trust from our patient’s perspective to allow us to collect data from them to serve them. This can be achieved and championed by CIOs in three steps. First, put tools, resources, and processes in place to protect user data. Second, ensure those processes are practiced organization-wide. And third, articulate what you’re doing to your patients and why it’s working to their advantage.

2. Apps and Algorithms

While they’re not everything that makes up AI in healthcare analytics, apps and algorithms are a big piece of the picture. In the near future, we’ll see apps and algorithms further driving things like predictive analytics, data-driven clinical decision-making, and the allocation of resources.

And these exciting advancements mean quite a bit for the evolving role of the healthcare CIO. First, it means a need for a deep look at interoperability. We know the solution is going to be a lengthy list of different tools. How are we going to make sure the tools actually work together to drive a better patient experience?

Second, it means an opportunity for the modern healthcare CIO to be the champion of change. Securing buy-in from patients, providers, and payers is critical to successful integration. This is where the CIO can step in and be an integral part of the solution.

3. Consumerism

While AI and predictive analytics will do a lot for internal processes and the quality of treatment, it’s best not to lose sight of the fact that healthcare is still a business. This is the reason that many thought leaders and forward-thinking healthcare CIOs look at AI as a complete digital experience—a place where digital becomes the initial point of entry for patients that then leverages technology to guide the patient through the most efficient route to getting well.

This should raise some important questions. How do these processes affect marketing? How do we engage with and sustain engagement with patients? We need to have a robust environment for people to come in and interact with providers that properly balances what we have to offer and meets the patient’s needs where they’re at.

4. Rise of the Digital Experience

Building on the idea of balancing what we have to offer and what patients are truly looking for is the idea of supply and demand. How can we use the digital experience to provide care to patients when and where they want it while also understanding the limitations of our organization’s resources and capacities?

The solution that effectively marries the supply and the demand here lies heavily with the emerging technological solutions. CIOs should look to aggregate a collection of tools that sit between the supply and demand connection point. And this isn’t just limited to things like telemedicine. It will also be a collection of smart agents supported by AI that helps to guide the patient to not only the right provider but also the right intervention at the right time.

5. Ransomware

Unfortunately, we’ve seen a dramatic rise in cyberattacks and ransomware attacks over the past few years. And as we’re looking to provide top-notch care, build trust with patients, and run efficient operations, this is a real threat.

This is where the healthcare CIO of the future needs to be ready to roll up their sleeves and protect their organization. The solution is going to be a multi-faceted approach that revolves around user education, awareness, tools, and staffing.

Here is the bottom line for each of these elements.

  • Education – Ensure staff and key leaders are educated on best practices to protect against cyber threats.
  • Awareness – Regularly test the user population for their awareness of threats. If you find users who are a little less aware, it’s an opportunity to provide resources for additional training.
  • Tools – Ideally, you’ll build out a polyphony of tools, from standardized configurations of your workstations to administrative password management, to surveillance and telemetry that you’re pulling off of your environment.
  • Staffing – The key to keeping safe is having a way of drawing insight and applying it back to how you manage your cyber security. And while this means CIOs will need to become more sophisticated cyber operators, it also means hiring seasoned senior cybersecurity professionals to support that mission.

The Bottom Line

The growth of AI, predictive analytics, and big data shouldn’t be viewed as a burden. Instead, they’re an opportunity for healthcare CIOs to position their organizations to deliver better care, more efficient operations, increased support for their staff, and a stronger bottom line. By being the champions, cheerleaders, and subject matter experts on the growing changes, CIOs can leverage their newly defined roles to power their organizations forward.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of AI in healthcare and how your organization may be able to position itself to capitalize, we’d encourage you to check out the full webinar here.

The Modern Healthcare CIO

Digital Transformation in a Post-COVID World

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