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News

IT AND COMMUNICATIONS IN HEALTHCARE – CHALLENGES IN THE USA

Healthcare Information And Management Systems Society (HIMSS) : 30 April, 2009  (Special Report)
FOCUS ZONE REPORT Findings released recently from the 20th annual HIMSS leadership survey shows that commitment to Healthcare IT remains a concern with electronic medical record, computerised provider order entry, security and financial issues being the main areas of consternation.
Implementing clinical systems including an EMR) and CPOE systems was cited as the top priority for healthcare information technology (IT) professionals who responded to the 20th Annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Leadership Survey.

Of the 304 respondents, 31 percent said the primary focus would be ensuring their organization has a full EMR. Another 17 percent said the primary focus would be the installation of a CPOE. Complete results of the Leadership Survey were presented at the 2009 Annual HIMSS Conference and Exhibition, one of the largest conferences in the IT industry, which was held in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Survey respondents’ answers also suggested the weakened economy has slowed the breakneck pace of growth but also that they and their organizations remain committed to healthcare IT. More than half of respondents (55 percent) said their IT budgets would increase, compared to 78 percent last year, and 42 percent said their staffing levels would increase, compared to 68 percent last year.

Many respondents completed the research prior to the February 17 signing of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), which aims to prompt the widespread adoption of healthcare IT and enable electronic exchange of health information through financial incentives. To assess the impact that the ARRA will have on IT spending, HIMSS is gathering additional information from survey respondents.

“The economy is affecting all sectors, healthcare IT included, but the good news is healthcare IT still continues to grow,” said Charles Christian, HIMSS board chair. “With the passage of the ARRA, the resulting billions of dollars intended to stimulate healthcare IT should certainly impact how respondents view their budget options.”

As in past years, security issues remain a top concern and 84 percent of respondents said their organization actively assesses security risks. One in four (25 percent) said they had suffered a security breach in the past year. To address the risks, nearly half (49 percent) said they plan to purchase single sign-on technology in the next year. Currently, 31 percent said they have single sign-on technology. Other security technologies a third or more respondents said they plan to purchase include e-mail encryption; biometric technologies, intrusion prevention/detection service and data encryption. Currently, 62 percent use e-mail encryption, 18 percent use biometric technologies, 75 percent use intrusion prevention/detection service and 56 percent use data encryption.

Other findings of the 20th Leadership Survey include:

- Respondents were most likely to indicate that IT can have an impact by reducing medical errors (38 percent) and improving quality outcomes (24 percent).

- While 29 percent said sustaining financial viability was the key business objective at their organization, 24 percent identified Patient safety and quality of care as the single key business objective.

- More than half (54 percent) said financial considerations was the business issue that would most impact on healthcare.

- Lack of adequate financial resources was identified by 28 percent of respondents as the top barrier to successful implementation of IT. Although this has been named as the top barrier for nine years straight, the percentage continues to climb last year it was cited by 26 percent of respondents and the year before by 20 percent.

An overwhelming majority (84 percent) said there is a strong level of integration between IT strategies and overall organizational strategy: 37 percent said their IT strategic plan is a component of the organization’s strategic plan and 47 percent said the plans were separate, but integrated.

Twenty years of HIMSS Leadership Surveys have tracked the shifts in healthcare IT implementation and mindset. Steady progress has been documented. For instance, the 1995 survey asked respondents about their plans for implementing an EMR what was then called a computer-based patient record system and just 26 percent of respondents said they had invested in software and equipment (although not necessarily implemented it), while 74 percent of respondents essentially hadn’t even begun. Perhaps not fully understanding the complexities of the issue, 87 percent of survey respondents thought physicians would be able to share computerized patient information in a nationwide system by 2005. This year 41 percent said they have a fully operational EMR in at least one facility in their organization, up from 32 percent two years ago. Seventeen percent said they have a fully operational EMR throughout their entire organization. More than a third (37 percent) said they’d begun to install EMR in at least one facility.

The self-administered Web-based Leadership Survey was completed by 304 participants between February 1, 2009 and March 6, 2009. Those surveyed represent 250 healthcare organizations and nearly 700 hospitals throughout the USA. The average bed size of the hospitals was 519. About 80 percent of respondents said they are senior IT executives at their organizations, and 62 percent are corporate chief information officers (CIOs).
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