Chapter 5: Health care technology’s impact on care delivery

Hospital CEO survey series

This chapter of our hospital CEO series explores how health care executives are using and thinking about technology. Of the health system CEOs we surveyed, cyber risks and the cost of health information technology (HIT) rank as top concerns.

HIT and hospital technology

​The CEOs we spoke with describe the dangers of making tactical HIT investments that lack clear ties to broader organizational goals of using technology to improve care delivery. Among more strategic investments are technologies that better connect patients, lower cost of care, or improve administrative process efficiency.

As health care becomes increasingly digitalized, more hospitals and health systems are welcoming technology experts into the C-suite and including more business and clinical experts among their IT leadership. Such staffing changes can be important because a number of CEOs say they're focused on developing and applying an organizational strategy for HIT versus making one-off investments.

A common investment focus area for CEOs is integrating legacy systems as part of a merger or acquisition. Getting to a standard IT platform is often a priority because it can help improve efficiency and enable operational integration. In addition, merging IT systems can help dismantle "silos" of clinical and other data, which, in turn, can improve analytical capabilities, create a more unified patient experience, and support quality tracking and other improvements.

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Maintaining cybersecurity in health care

​Nearly all executives are aware of their institutions' cyber risks, particularly since our interviews were conducted during the widely reported WannaCry cyberattack. The number and magnitude of cyberattacks is increasing across all industries, and health systems' increasing technology use makes them vulnerable to such attacks.

Cybersecurity is a priority for most CEOs, but it exists as one issue among many that demand their attention. Several executives note that they've been focused on cyber for some time already but are aware that they may never be completely safe. A large academic medical center, for example, could contain 500 to 1,000 different HIT systems, each interacting with the organization's very large electronic health record and enterprise resource planning systems, which can result in many points of potential failure.

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An average of one health care breach incident per day was reported in the first half of 2017, with at least half of the incidents perpetrated by hackers.

Making strategic investments

With a well-developed HIT strategy, CEOs and HIT leaders can prioritize resources and invest in updates and emergent technologies that have the potential to improve care delivery, cost, quality, and customer engagement. Executives should think strategically about how each HIT investment brings the most value, and how it enables new, different, or better care. Forward-looking CEOs are commonly:

  • Defining a strategy to drive HIT investments and decisions across the entire organization
  • Developing new models of delivering patient care through technology
  • Investing in exponential technologies
  • Using predictive analytics to deliver population health capabilities such as identifying patients who are most at risk for medical complications including diabetes and cardiac arrest
  • Finding ways to integrate data across the organization and address regulatory barriers and data silos
  • Sharing information to create smarter ways of working with multiple stakeholders
  • Leveraging data and technology for decision making in care delivery and process improvement efforts

To learn more about technology's impact on care delivery and cybersecurity, download the full report.

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"The idea that you are going to be fool-proof against hackers of one kind or another would be foolish. You just have to make sure that you can do the best you possibly can to protect yourself as much as you can, but you can never be foolproof."

—CEO of a large academic medical center

Explore additional chapters from Deloitte's 2017 Survey of US health system CEOs.

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