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Health IT from the CIO’s Chair 1/21/15

January 21, 2015 Darren Dworkin 6 Comments

Fine print: the views and opinions expressed in this article are mine personally and are not necessarily representative of current or former employers.


January brings the new year and the new year reliably brings two things: resolutions and predictions. I’ve already broken my New Year’s resolutions, so I’m going to try my hand at predictions.

For them to be any fun, I think they need to be as specific as possible and sufficiently bold so they don’t state the obvious. “I predict there will be a lot of change in the healthcare system in the year ahead” is not a prediction – it’s a campaign promise.

Here goes, in no particular order.

  1. Provider healthcare organizations will move into the cloud by adopting Office 365 and moving email off premise at record rates. Hospitals historically wanted grand atriums (often with pianos) and big, shiny data centers. No prediction on the pianos, but not only will the tipping point occur on cloud-based email in 2015, but this will be the start of the shift away from “everything needs to be managed by hospital tech staff” and will pave the way for ERP and EMR to be next (in that order).
  2. While I’m on the topic of Microsoft, I predict that when it comes to Windows, you will hear two things in 2015: (a) “What happened to Windows 9?” and (b) “I hate to say this aloud, but Windows 10 is kind of cool.” Microsoft has a lot of ground to make up to win the hearts and minds of their base, the enterprise user. But Windows 10 will bend the curve back in Microsoft’s favor.
  3. Security will be in the news and will shape everything, period, everything. The focus on cybersecurity — with the help of Apple, who is making fingerprints mainstream — means we will see biometric everywhere. Two-factor authentication will become the norm. Your finger will be your password by the end of 2015.
  4. Wearables. We are all growing tired of the huge number, but this spring will bring the iWatch. It will spur the market and create the needed tipping point that has been missing – software and apps to make wearables worth the effort. The iWatch will be huge, no, I mean really big! Apple will not be able to make them fast enough and waits will be measured in weeks. Innovation will abound and the Internet of Things will all start to make sense.
  5. Virtual reality will capture our imagination. Magic Leap will forever change things this year. The “cinematic reality” startup raised over $500 million from names we know. We will all soon understand why. Our imagination will be captured as we think about new ways we never imagined we could interact with a computer.
  6. Big data will stay flat. By the end of 2015, we will have nothing new to report. We will be using the same buzzwords and holding the same optimistic promises. 2015 just won’t be the year we figure it out. I do predict we will stop using the term “data lakes,” but I can’t tell you why.
  7. HIE obsessions will give way to FHIR talk. The HIE interoperability goal was moving the record from Point A to Point B. The yardstick has shifted and will be defined by how we can integrate workflows from site to site. FHIR will gain even more steam and be the talk everywhere.
  8. The VA decision will change everything. It won’t go to Allscripts, Cerner, or Epic (which will be unfortunate), and while the project will be huge and take many years to deliver, in 2015 it will act as an engine to drive standards and data structure conversations as a new open source style system will be born.
  9. 2015 will continue to set records in terms of health IT startup funding. Many major health systems will become more active by investing directly in companies in an attempt to capture the value they believe they help create. At least one health IT software company will IPO in 2015, setting a record. Cerner, McKesson, The Advisory Board, Allscripts, and Athenahealth will all continue to exercise one of the few advantages they have over Epic in the EMR space — they will continue to buy strategic assets to innovate at the fast pace required.
  10. Cerner will seek to divest the Device Works division so that it may become a company that can compete in the whole market, not just in Cerner accounts. The new entity will become a powerhouse and take market share from both Philips and GE.

Think my predictions are wrong or ridiculous? Don’t tell me why. Instead, leave me a comment and give me yours. Remember: be specific and be bold.

1-29-2014 12-54-46 PM

Darren Dworkin is chief information officer at Cedars-Sinai Health System in Los Angeles, CA. You can reach Darren on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.

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Currently there are "6 comments" on this Article:

  1. Are we really making this guy a regular contributor? These pieces smack of self-promotion. When a foolish VC finally agrees to fund whatever start up Darren is angling to get off the ground, please replace this Hollywood wannabe with a CIO who deals in the real world.

  2. Darren – here in the UK the data centres aren’t shiny but I think the move toward off-premise will become compelling here too. 2015 will be the year in which some forward-thinking sites finally give up the constant battle to ensure enough power, space and cooling in two or more resilient datacentres. The fight has exhausted many IT departments who would like to launch upgrades, refreshes and new systems but can’t because of a lack of one or more of the above. This is will be the year when they start to look elsewhere.

  3. “Provider healthcare organizations will move into the cloud by adopting Office 365 and moving email off premise at record rates.”

    Is this the only choice? As someone who has gone through this, there has to be a solution with less network lag and not such a large step back in IM and telephony quality and features.

    Google Mail? Open Source IM? Google Docs? Completely agree this is basic office functionality is commodity and not mission critical for most of us, so very ripe for outsourcing. But the solution should also be cross-platform to support tablets and phones and at a price point that reflects work processing was figured out in the 1980s.

  4. @HIT Lifer, I think Darren does a nice job of project trends and early adoption considerations for healthcare providers. Historically, that market has been pretty slow to accept change compared to other industries. I think the role of CIO has shifted from managing the servers & help desk to evaluating innovative opportunities that further the strategic goals of their respective organization. Darren seems like he firmly grasps that notion. BTW – he is also at Cedars-Sinai. There is nothing “wannabe” about that facility. It is Hollywood.

  5. It is all too easy to characterize people who put their thoughts out there as self-promoting, so I don’t agree with HIT Lifer. Seems like any CIO has done self-promoting at some level or they would not be a CIO.

    I do want to comment on the “HIE obsession” bullet. HIEs were not just about moving data from point A to point B, and FHIR does not advance anything other than a new standard. Real HIEs focused on improving outcomes, and fought uphill battles to get healthcare organizations to stay true to their missions and keep patients at the center. Although there were definitely plenty of money grabs when the state-level HIE funding was let (as evidenced by several failed state efforts), the intended effect was to get wildly competitive hospital and healthcare systems to stop hoarding data for self interest, and use it to improve care. It was not always pretty, but ultimately it accomplished the intended effect. Without the push from ONC, CMS, and leading state governments, most healthcare organizations and nearly all EHR vendors would still be hoarding data.

  6. Fun stuff to think about. If any of the three (wearables, biometrics or virtual reality) actually make a splash, it will be great. I’m less optimistic that anyone will make those technologies actually work well for a purpose that draws a crowd…Love your predictions though, it’s fun to fantasize about this stuff!

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