Recap: The Big 2021 Tech Investments for 5 Health System CIOs

Becker's Hospital Review interviewed 5 Health System CIOs to find out their top tech investments for 2021.

Becker's Hospital Review interviewed 5 Health System CIOs to find out their top tech investments for 2021.

For the past 9 years, the team at Pomelo Health has been tirelessly working on digitizing the entire patient journey; from helping providers and practices improve their Digital Front Door, to making sure patients who need in-person care receive it quickly and with the fewest hurdles. However, many healthcare technology decision-makers have had to update their investment plans due to added challenges brought on by COVID-19. For ease of access, we’ve summarized an article by Becker's Hospital Review in an attempt to highlight the potential shifts in healthcare-technology this upcoming year.

While several Chief Information Officers agree that resources like artificial intelligence and cloud-based research platforms will be large investment areas this year, many CIOs are also choosing to focus on updating current workflows and softwares to overcome the new challenges brought on by COVID-19.

According to Michael Pfeffer, MD., Assistant Vice Chancellor and CIO of UCLA Health, “cloud-based research platforms around high performance computing, artificial intelligence and the machine learning toolkits'' are key for 2021, but must integrate with the system’s EHR. Dr. Pfeffer also aims to continue improving patient care by incorporating EHR data with other types of data (genomics, real-time wait forms, radiological images, etc.).

In contrast, CIO of Hospital Sisters Health System (Springfield, Ill.),, Ray Gensinger, MD. believes that COVID-19 will remain the primary focus in 2021, until we overcome the pandemic. However, afterwards, Dr. Gensinger believes that digital strategy and service delivery will be a key investment area.

Recently, Zafar Chaudry, MD., Senior vice president and CIO of Seattle Children's, made the conversion from Cerner to Epic, remotely training over 13,000 people for the first time. Once the dust settles, Dr. Chaudry plans on investing in a replacement for their enterprise resource planning system.

According to Michael Elley, CIO of Baptist Health (Little Rock, Ark.), Telehealth will become a big investment area for 2021. Not only to treat patients, but to do things like manage cameras, or quickly access family members or loved ones for the patient.

Finally, rather than investing purely in new endeavors, Craig Richardville, Senior Vice President and Chief Information and Digital Officer at SCL Health (Broomfield, Colo.) believes the way forward is to continue to invest in softwares and systems already in place, but not necessarily being used to their full potential. Simplifying access to the digital front door in order to continue delivering great health services is also a priority.

With current restrictions on gathering, it’s clear that CIOs and providers alike are looking for alternative, sustainable solutions that will continue to allow them to deliver great care, as well as grow their practice.

While we can never be sure which investments will have the highest return financially, when CIOs put patient-care at the core of their decision making, the return on patient satisfaction is sure to surpass quarterly expectations. 

Other Notable 2021 Investments, According to Health System CIOs:

  • Equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives for both IT & patients
  • Information security
  • Analytics/predictive-analytics
  • Licensing for remote workers


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