The current pandemic has shifted priorities for healthcare providers. Elective surgeries are being canceled to focus on COVID-19 patients, while the non-essential workforce has transitioned to a home office. The shift in the workforce will have an impact on the IT budget.
Below are the trends for 2020 and early 2021:
Short-term investment in technology for the remote workforce and virtual care. Healthcare organizations were not prepared for the massive shift to working from home. CIOs had to ramp up their infrastructure for the following areas:
- Virtual desktop service
- Remote desktop as a service
- VPN licenses
- Mobile device management licenses
- Video conferencing solution licenses
- Remote security monitoring tools
- Increasing bandwidth to accommodate increase (by 13 to 17 times) in staff working from home.
Core IT infrastructure focus. Many healthcare organizations lack the necessary IT foundation (core infrastructure). Healthcare organizations have made expensive investments in the infrastructure already. The requirements have changed, and the emphasis has to be on speed and agility. Here is the key question to ask? How long does it take you to set up a new site or extension of your facility? If the answer is more than 1-2 days max, then it is time to reevaluate your infrastructure ASAP. Software-defined networks will be the theme for CIOs and CTOs during the evaluation of the core infrastructure.
New projects on hold. CIOs will evaluate their 2020 plans, and the new initiatives are all on hold. I expect projects that focus on enhancing the remote workforce, IT security, and telemedicine will continue to progress, while other initiatives will be paused. The enterprise transformation projects on the radar for healthcare organizations such as clinical communications, cloud ERP upgrades, RPA, and healthcare CRM are on hold.
Cost-cutting. IT budgets are not going to increase in 2020, and so CIOs must be creative with their cost-cutting initiative to pay for the additional infrastructure investment. I expect intense negotiations on contract renewals and potential new projects. Health systems are trying very hard not to lay off employees, and with IT operating as a large budget holder in the organization, I expect an adjustment for 2020 and 2021 IT budget for every health system.
Here is a great comment posted by Ben Haines, SVP and CIO with Verizon Media, after I Tweeted this blog:
In conclusion, 2020 has already been a tough year for innovation, since many organizations were playing catch up implementing old initiatives from 2018/2019. 2020 is a pause year; now with the coronavirus crisis, few organizations have the money to “try things out” and pilot innovative projects.
This piece was written by David Chou, a digital transformation consultant and longtime advocate for leveraging technology as a competitive advantage. Currently serving as CIO at Luye Medical Group, Chou has held leadership roles with several organizations, including University of Mississippi Medical Center, Cleveland Clinic, and most recently, Children’s Mercy Hospital. To follow him on Twitter, click here.