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Security, Privacy Are Healthcare's Top IT Priorities

September 5th, 2019

Healthcare IT priorities 2019

Just as with the national economy, technological advances, competitive market forces, the demand for new skills, and engagement, job satisfaction and worker stress are challenging the healthcare industry, forcing it to rethink practically every aspect of how it does business.

But, as the recent U.S. Leadership and Workforce Survey from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society reports, there are significant differences how organizations prioritize those issues. "Hospitals and non-acute providers appear to have very different strategies regarding information and technology leadership and workers," the report states.

One key concern is with staffing. Though the HIMSS report focuses on healthcare IT, the report could be speaking about all professional staff when it says, "Hospitals (and Vendors) tend to operate environments with fairly extensive opportunities, whereas non-acute providers tend to deal with static workforce demands. The culture that can result from these different settings is something healthcare leaders should take into consideration when developing a staffing strategy."

IT vacancies are common, the survey found. Only 28% of hospitals report being fully staffed, a percentage that doubles to 56% among non-acute health providers. Why that is so, the report says, is that the two environments are quite different. "These two groups have very different health IT workforce experiences and expectations," notes the report, which goes on to say differences in IT growth between the two "produce exceedingly different workplace cultures; a fast-paced environment in hospitals and a fairly stable setting in non-acute organizations."

While workforce staffing is a major concern, all healthcare providers agree their top priorities center around "Cybersecurity, Privacy, and Security” and “Improving Quality Outcomes Through Health Information and Technology." Describing the response as "passionate" to the ranking of these two areas as 1 and 2 respectively (out of a list of 24 possible issues), the report said it, "suggests a growing number of provider organizations realize the need to protect existing business practices before aggressively pursuing other information and technology issues."

Coupled with staffing issues, healthcare leaders might be hesitant about undertaking projects unrelated to data security and improving quality.

Ranking security at the top of their priorities, "Suggests leaders maybe focusing on securing their organization before pursuing information and technology innovations."

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