But what is that extra spending going toward? The top driver, ticked off by 52% of respondents, was regulatory reporting requirements, most notably ICD-10. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) has long argued that ICD-10 codes will lead to better patient care, and it's certainly true that better coding can lead improve reimbursements, but in the end that's a lot of money to pay for more coders.
Still, a majority of survey respondents (58%) say their organizations invest in IT, meaning they expect a financial return, rather than simply spend on IT (indicated by 42%).
But while the survey indicates overall trends and expectations, the comments by individual executives reveal how they view healthcare IT. "IT will always disappoint if you expect a return," says the president of a large physician organization. "Most CFOs will say they haven't seen a ROI on the investments made in IT as an industry compared to industries like banking," says Donna Abney, executive vice president of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, whose organization helped shaped the Intelligence Report.
Some executives blame the government; the CEO of a medium-sized hospital says, "The required expenditure on IT to meet government mandates far exceeds any financial benefit it will produce for the hospital. The Meaningful Use standards are there to serve the government/payers' purposes." Others blame technology vendors; the CMO of a medium-sized health system says, "IT is not yet flexible enough or open enough to show a true ROI. The proprietary nature of most vendors has a very negative effect on building and creating a truly patient-focused record and a healthcare IT system that gets us out of the 1970s in terms of technology."