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Meaningful Use Drives IT Activity

February 22, 2011
by John DeGaspari
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Meaningful use and the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act stood front and center as the key impetus behind healthcare IT investments, according to the latest HIMSS Leadership Survey released on Monday. Half of the respondents named meaningful use as their top priority over the next two years.

The survey polled 326 respondents, representing nearly 700 hospitals in the U.S.; average bed-size of respondents was 512, with mean bed size of 330.64 percent of the respondents indicated they were corporate level CIOs. The survey was conducted between Dec. 3, 2010 and Jan.31, 2011.

The survey also found that two-thirds of respondents are making additional investments to qualify for stage 1 of meaningful use. Implementation of ICD-10 was named as the top financial focus by nearly half of the respondents. And lack of financial support and staffing resources are two key barriers to implementing IT.

When asked to name their key business objective, 25 percent named achieving meaningful use, followed by improving patient care (21 percent), and improving operational efficiencies (17 percent).
Roughly one-third of respondents (34 percent) said they have begun to install the electronic heath record and 26 percent said they had an EHR system fully operational in one facility. Both numbers were roughly in line with last year’s responses. In addition, 27 percent of respondents said EHR was fully operational across their whole organization, up from 22 percent the prior year.

Respondents said they believed in the payoff f implementing IT, particularly in improving quality outcomes (41 percent), HIPAA and CMS compliance (30 percent), and standardization of clinical care (12 percent). With wider implementation of IT, however, there are significant concerns about data security. Thirty-six percent of respondents said they named internal breach of security as a top concern, followed by HIPAA ad CMS compliance (30 percent), and inadequate support for security (17 percent) security.

Health Information Exchanges have come up on radar of many respondents, with 44 percent saying they participated in an HIE (up from37 percent who said they planned to participate the previous year). Thirty-one percent said they have no plans to participate in an HIE, down from 41 percent who replied to the same question the previous year.

Respondents indicated some alignment between the organizational and IT strategic plans. Thirty-six percent said the plans are separate but aligned (down from 40 percent last year); while 51 percent said the IT strategic plan is a component of the organizational plan (up from 47 percent last year).

Finding qualified workers continues to be a challenge. Sixty-four percent of respondents said they expected to increase their IT staff in the next 12 months, roughly the same as last year; while 30 percent expected no change.

Forty-six percent of respondents said their IT operating budget would definitely increase (about the same as last year; and another 30 percent said the IT operating budget would probablyincrease, up from 25 percent last year.

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