Government initiatives drive health IT spending

March 24, 2011

Confirming what you already may have suspected, results of the 22nd annual Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Leadership Survey suggest that federal government initiatives are the driving force behind current healthcare information technology (IT) spending.

Confirming what you already may have suspected, results of the 22nd annual Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Leadership Survey suggest that federal government initiatives are the driving force behind current healthcare information technology (IT) spending.

Achieving “meaningful use” implementation of certified healthcare IT products clearly was top-of-mind for respondents: half named it their top IT priority for the next 2 years. That’s up from 42% last year, the first year after the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which offers financial incentives to providers and hospitals for the implementation of the meaningful use of healthcare IT products.

Twenty-five percent of survey respondents named reaching Stage 1 of meaningful use requirements as their organization’s key business objective. Stage 1 focuses on effectively capturing data in electronic health records (EHRs).

Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they were planning to make additional investments to position their organizations to qualify for the incentives (up from 59% last year), and 42% said their organizations planned to spend at least $1 million to achieve Stage 1 meaningful use requirements. Eighty-one percent said that they expected their organizations to qualify for Stage 1 this year or next.

Thirty-six percent of survey participants said they thought that healthcare reform would be the top business issue that would affect healthcare in the next 2 years, whereas 17% named policy mandates, including adherence to regulations.

Lack of budget and staff also were named as the major barriers to IT implementation, according to respondents; lack of adequate support for IT was named by 18% (although down from 24% a year ago), barely eking out lack of staffing resources (17%).

Other results of the survey:

  • EHR: Fifty-three percent of respondents said that they have a fully operational EHR system in at least one facility in their organization, up from 48% last year.

  • Health information exchange (HIE): Forty-five percent of participants indicated that their organizations participates in at least one HIE in their area; 31% said they have not yet planned to participate in an HIE, down from 41% in 2010.

  • Security: Twenty-six percent of respondents said their organizations have had a security breach in the past 12 months, similar to 2010 (23%).

  • Patient care: Among a list of choices indicating in which area IT can have the biggest impact on patient care, 41% named clinical and quality outcomes, up from 37% in 2010.