Today, HIMSS unveiled the findings of the 2018 U.S. Leadership and Workforce Survey. This annual study offers insight into the information and technology concerns of U.S. health leaders, especially those involved in the hospital marketplace. The data suggests a year-over-year consistency in the market’s information and technology priorities with vendors/consultants and Hospital respondents evaluating many priorities with the same degree of intensity. Yet, the findings also reveal that vendors/consultants and hospital providers do not necessarily share all of the top concerns. These findings lead us to conclude that the market is too complex for health leaders to employ a “one-size-fits-all” approach when addressing the priorities of hospitals. Below are five key findings from this year’s survey:
1. Vendors/consultants and hospitals continue to be generally aligned on information and technology priorities with cybersecurity and data analytics emerging as two of the top priorities across all respondent groups. While vendors/consultants and hospital respondents evaluated many of the priorities with the same intensity, they did vary in terms of the rank order of the issues. That said there was a consistency in the primacy assigned to two issues; Privacy, security and cybersecurity was the third most important priority for vendors and consultants, and the second most important priority for hospital respondents. Likewise, Data analytics/clinical and business intelligence was the top priority for vendors/consultants and the fifth most important priority for hospital respondents. Given the array of priorities the hospital faces, these two issues are clearly big areas of focus for information and technology professionals in all settings in 2018.
2. Information and technology professionals employed within hospital settings are enjoying increased influence. Both provider respondents and vendor/consultants were asked to rate the “shift in influence” select information and technology executives appear to be experiencing within the provider organization. The findings reveal vendors/consultants and hospital executives are largely in agreement regarding their perceptions of the increased influence of varied information and technology executives. For vendors/consultants, this means they will need to be ever more purposeful in establishing and maintaining relationships with their clients within the hospital setting.
3. Vendors/consultants and providers are at odds regarding the projected demand for information and technology resources this coming year. A majority of vendors/consultants (86 percent) expect their volume of business to increase next year, while the majority of hospitals (63 percent) project their IT operating budget to stay the same (21 percent) or be reduced (43 percent). Given these findings, vendors/consultants will need to ensure they are staffed appropriately to meet this anticipated increased demand, or risk overextending themselves.
4. Hospitals are more likely to modify IT projects due to staffing/workforce challenges than vendors and consultants. More than half of hospital respondents (51 percent) claimed their organization elected to place on hold or scale back an IT project or initiative in the past year due to a workforce challenge, compared to 38 percent of vendors/consultants. This is an increase over last year, when 47 percent of hospital respondents reported that workforce challenges negatively impacted an IT project. To help address these ongoing workforce issues, hospitals may want to consider leveraging the services of an outside executive search firm.
5. Health IT professionals looking for jobs should start with vendors/consultants – and be prepared to tackle cybersecurity and data analytics. 69 percent of vendors/consultants indicated that they had open positions to fill, compared to 34 percent of hospitals. Across the board, this year’s survey results indicated privacy, security and cybersecurity and data analytics/clinical and business intelligence are among the top priorities for 2018; therefore, IT applicants should go into the job search with an understanding of how their role maps back to and supports these priorities.