Survey Highlights Digital Health Challenges and Opportunities for Health System Leaders

By: Alex Nixon

Cybersecurity, Telehealth and Interoperability are ‘Top of Mind’ for IT Executives in 2019

As health system leaders look ahead to the challenges and opportunities of the coming year, they are increasing their spending to defend against cyberattacks, expressing optimism about reimbursement for telehealth services, and feeling anxiety about Apple, Amazon and Google entering the health care space.

Those were among the key findings from a new survey, “Top of Mind for Top Health Systems 2019,” focusing on cybersecurity, telehealth and interoperability. The findings are based on quantitative and qualitative surveys of C-suite executives at nearly 40 U.S. health systems.

Released by the Center for Connected Medicine (CCM), in partnership with The Health Management Academy, key findings include:

Hackers and other cyber-criminals are stepping up their attacks on the health care industry, leading 87 percent of respondents to say they expect to increase spending on cybersecurity in 2019; no health system was expecting to decrease spending.

Health information technology (IT) leaders overwhelmingly expect government and commercial reimbursement to provide the majority of funding for telehealth services by 2022; internal funding and patient payments are expected to provide the majority of funding for telehealth in 2019.

70 percent of responding executives said they were “somewhat concerned” about big tech companies, such as Apple, Amazon and Google, disrupting the health care market; 10 percent were “very concerned.”

The CCM, a health IT content hub and event center, is jointly operated by GE Healthcare, Nokia and UPMC, and located inside UPMC’s headquarters in the U.S. Steel Tower in Pittsburgh. The CCM produces reports and virtual and live events focused on leaders who seek to drive improvements in health care through technology.

Conducted in three parts, the Top of Mind 2019 research started with a survey of health system information officers in May 2018 to determine the top areas of health IT for 2019; 63 chief information officers (CIO), chief medical information officers (CMIO), and chief nursing information officers (CNIO) responded.

A quantitative survey was conducted in July 2018 with questions focused on cybersecurity, telehealth and interoperability; 30 CIOs, CMIOs and CNIOs responded. In September 2018, qualitative interviews were completed with 18 C-suite executives, including chief executive officers, chief operating officers, CIOs and CMIOs. Overall, the respondents represented 38 health systems with average annual revenue of $5.3 billion.

For more key findings and exclusive insights from health system executives, download a copy of the report at