Security ranks highest among provider IT concerns, HIMSS survey finds

Provider organizations see cybersecurity, privacy and security risks as among their top information technology challenges in 2019.

Other key IT imperatives include for the coming months include improving quality outcomes, clinical informatics and clinician engagement, culture of care and care coordination, and process improvement and change management, according to results of the 2019 HIMSS U.S. Leadership and Workforce Survey.

Survey results were based on feedback from 232 respondents working at healthcare provider organizations; another 37 respondents from health IT vendors responded to the survey, and HIMSS reported out results separately for each industry segment.

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Providers were asked to rate technology priorities on a scale, with 1 being “not a priority” up to 7 being “an essential priority.” Responses from providers showed cybersecurity as their top concern, with a mean score of 5.69 on the scale. Improving quality outcomes ranked second highest, at 5.23, followed by clinical informatics and clinician engagement, at 5.14.

“That providers (especially hospital respondents) responded so passionately to this priority suggests a growing number of provider organizations realize the need to protect existing business practices before aggressively pursuing other information and technology issues,” HIMSS researchers said in analyzing the results.

Provider organizations generally expect they’ll need more resources for IT for the coming year, results of the survey suggest. Nearly six out of 10 respondents from providers (59 percent) anticipate increased resource demands for 2019, compared with 9 percent who project a decrease and 20 percent who foresee no change.

Those results appear to match resource consumption expectations with results of similar surveys conducted by HIMSS in 2016 and 2017, recovering from 2018, when only 24 percent of all respondents predicted increased resource demands, while 43 percent expected decreases.

Workforce vacancies continue to be a problem for the industry. More than half of providers (52 percent) say they have open positions to fill, compared with 36 percent that say they are fully staffed. Some 38 percent of provider respondents said their workforce size has increased in the past year, while only 14 percent say it has decreased.

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