'Meaningful use' to spur healthcare IT spending, HIMSS survey says

March 11, 2010

The concept of ?meaningful use,? together with an improving economy, appears to be spurring an increase in healthcare information technology spending, suggest recently released results of the 21st annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Leadership Survey.

The concept of "meaningful use," together with an improving economy, appears to be spurring an increase in healthcare information technology (IT) spending, suggest recently released results of the 21st annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Leadership Survey. The self-administered web-based survey was completed by 398 participants representing IT professionals at nearly 270 healthcare organizations and nearly 700 hospitals throughout the United States.

Signed February 17, 2009, the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act promises financial incentives to providers and hospitals for the meaningful use of certified healthcare IT products.

Survey findings:

Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they plan to make additional investments to position themselves to qualify for the incentives.

Seventy-two percent of respondents said they expect their IT operating budgets to increase, bringing that response back to the levels of two years ago. Last year, only 55 percent of respondents expected an increase in their budgets. Forty-nine percent who said their budgets would increase this year reported that meaningful use would be a driver. Another 45 percent reported the increase would be due to an overall growth in the number of system and technologies at their organization.

Asked to identify their single IT priority during the next two years, 42 percent of respondents identified meeting meaningful use criteria. Many likely will be doing so by implementing clinical systems: when asked to identify their organizationÕs primary clinical IT focus, 35 percent said it would be ensuring their organization has a fully functional electronic health record (EHR) system in place, and 27 percent said it would focus on installing a computerized provider order entry system.

Meaningful use was reflected in other answers throughout the survey. For instance, 38 percent said government issues were the business issue they felt would have the biggest impact on healthcare in the next two years, whereas last year, six percent thought that was the case. This year's response reflects compliance with new regulations regarding meaningful use as well as coding upgrades and claim processes impacted by ICD-10 (the World Health OrganizationÕs International Classification of Diseases) and the updated version of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Financial considerations (such as demand for capital and finding new revenue resources) were identified as the top business issue last year, chosen by 54 percent of respondents. This year, 23 percent identified it as the top business issue.

 Healthcare organizations continue to make progress on EHR system adoption. Forty-eight percent said they have a fully operational EHR system in at least one facility, compared with 41 percent last year. Twenty-two percent said they have a fully operational EHR system throughout their entire organization, up from 17 percent last year. Thirty-two percent have begun to install an EHR system in at least one facility.

Twenty-four percent of respondents said lack of adequate financial resources/lack of budget would be the most significant barrier to successful healthcare IT implementation at their organization.

Forty-three percent of respondents said their organization participates in a Health Information Exchange (HIE): 37 percent in their area and seven percent in the state-mandated HIE.