In a recent survey, health IT leaders identified measuring improvement in patient care quality as one of their top business objectives in 2018, followed by identifying areas of cost reduction. However, the survey also revealed that healthcare organization leaders continue to struggle with aligning reporting priorities with practices.
Stoltenberg Consulting, a Pittsburgh-based healthcare information technology consulting firm, recently issued its sixth annual Health IT Industry Outlook Survey, which was conducted during 2018 Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual conference in Las Vegas (HIMSS18). For the survey, Stoltenberg Consulting surveyed more than 300 healthcare professionals representing a comprehensive spectrum of provider facilities, including health systems, standalone hospitals, physician practices and other ambulatory care facilities. IT professionals led survey participation (40 percent), while executive/C-suite leaders followed closely behind (30 percent).
As noted above, measuring care quality tops health IT business objectives, as 40 percent of respondents reported “measuring improvement in patient care quality” was their top 2018 business objective followed by “identifying areas of cost reduction” (32 percent). Improving staff retention and satisfaction rated equally to maximizing reimbursement opportunities among survey participants (14 percent), as other business objectives.
The survey found that as healthcare organizations jockey for operational efficiency in the competitive transition to value-based care, they also noted an ongoing struggle to align reporting priories with practices. Forty percent of survey participants reported feeling underprepared for year 2 of the updated Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) rule, while only 12 percent indicated they are very prepared.
“Inundated with data, healthcare organizations need to look at the full picture of patient care for more proactive decision making and business management,” Joncé Smith, vice president of revenue cycle management at Stoltenberg Consulting, said in a statement. “Provider IT departments cannot just gather data for the sake of collection. They need to look for trends to identify areas of workflow improvement and end-user education to streamline coordination across the entire continuum of care.”
Although EHR system adoption is nearly universal across the country, past challenges linger and interoperability remains an overwhelming IT challenge. Perhaps that is why clinical application/implementation support was cited as the top area where survey respondents planned to hire or outsource additional IT support (32 percent) followed by help desk (28 percent) and financial application/implementation support (15 percent).
With true implementation beyond a system go live, optimizing IT/EHR performance (32 percent) and overcoming IT staff shortages (31 percent) were cited almost equally as the most significant challenges in 2018 among survey participants.
Survey results also highlighted organization’s moving to embrace advanced technologies. More than one-third (39 percent) of respondents rated artificial intelligence (AI) as the most significant health IT topic of 2018, followed by cybersecurity (25 percent) and blockchain (20 percent).