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BREAKING: Finances and MU, ICD-10, and Other Policy Mandates Dominate the Picture in 25th HIMSS Leadership Survey Results

February 24, 2014
by Mark Hagland
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The majority of CIOs express confidence in satisfying MU requirements in 2014, meeting ICD-10 deadline
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HIMSS leaders discuss results of the Leadership Survey Feb. 24

Helping their organizations to sustain financial viability increased perceptibly as a top concern for CIOs in 2013, even as CIOs and other senior healthcare IT leaders plunged further into meaningful use work and preparations for the conversion to the ICD-10 coding system, the 25th Annual HIMSS Leadership Survey found.

The 25th Annual HIMSS Leadership Survey’s results were unveiled during a media briefing on Monday morning, Feb. 24, during HIMSS14, the annual conference of the Healthcare Information & Management Systems Society. The results came from 298 respondents, surveyed online in late 2013.

Among the marquee-headline findings: sustaining financial viability remains the top key business objective for respondents; federal policy initiatives continue to drive healthcare IT adoption nationwide in the U.S.; and staffing continues to be a top barrier to IT implementation.

Indeed, 25 percent of respondents cited sustaining financial viability as their number-one business objective this year, versus 21 percent who did so in the 2013 survey. The remaining top four concerns were improving operational efficiency (16 percent versus 17 percent last year), improving the quality of care (14 percent versus 19 percent last year), achieving meaningful use (14 percent versus 15 percent last year), and increasing market share (10 percent versus 9 percent last year).

When it came to naming the business issues with the most impact on healthcare, 23 percent of respondents cited changing payment models; 22 percent named policy mandates; 17 percent indicated financial considerations; and 7 percent each r4eferenced the shifting healthcare landscape and changing insurance models.

Meaningful use and ICD-10: pushing ahead

When it comes to meeting the requirements of Stage 2 of meaningful use under the HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act, fully 71 percent of survey respondents said they expected to attest to Stage 2 of MU by the end of 2014; 19 percent expected to attest to stage 2 in 2015; and only 2 percent said they would attest later (4 percent will not attest, and 4 percent didn’t know when they would attest).

In terms of how much money their organizations are spending on meaningful use, 3 percent of survey respondents were spending “no additional funds”; 15 percent were spending under $250,000; another 15 percent were spending between $500,000 and $999,999; 9 percent were spending $1-2 million; 4 percent were spending $3-4 million; and 1 percent were spending $5-9 million. In terms of the ROI involved, fully 38 percent believed they would see a return of investment of less than $2 million for meeting the Stage 2 requirements.

There was more uniformly good news on the preparation for the conversion to the ICD-10 coding system, with fully 92 percent of respondents saying they were prepared to meet the Oct. 1 deadline, while 2 percent said their organizations would not be prepared in time, and 6 percent didn’t know.

Staffing, resources issues cited

As CIOs and other healthcare IT leaders struggle forward to meet the panoply of federal mandates that involve IT, what are the most significant barriers to implement IT? Survey respondents delivered a mixed bag of responses, with 19 percent citing lack of financial support; 18 percent referencing lack of staffing resources; 13 percent naming vendors’ inability to deliver product; and all other responses reaching the level of 7 percent or lower (lack of interoperable systems, difficulty achieving end-user acceptance, difficulty proving ROI, lack of time by clinicians, lack of top management support, lack of strategic IT plan, and constraints at a higher policy level).

What about budgets and staffing? In the next 12 months, 65 percent of respondents said they would receive a budget increase (versus 76 percent who said so last year); 19 percent will see no budget change (versus 15 percent last year); and 12 percent will see a budget decrease (versus 8 percent last year). Reasons for increases in budgets? Overall growth in the number of information systems in organizations (58 percent), the need to comply with regulatory changes (49 percent), overall budget increases (46 percent); and the need to upgrade IT infrastructure (41 percent).

When it comes to changes in IT staff in the next 12 months, 39 percent of survey respondents said their staffs will increase (versus 51 percent who said so last year); 48 percent will see no change (versus 38 percent last year); and 9 percent will see staff cutbacks (versus 7 percent last year).

Interestingly, when survey respondents were asked what IT areas can most impact patient care, these were the results: 37 percent said improving quality outcomes; 18 percent cited reducing medical errors; 13 percent named helping to standardize clinical care; and 8 percent each said supporting staff productivity and sharing or accessing data with external entities.