Although federal guidelines are not yet set for meaningful use, nearly three-fourths of hospitals and other healthcare organizations say they will increase information technology spending in anticipation of stimulus fund reimbursement. However, security issues remain a concern for hospitals.
Nearly half of the 72% of the 398 healthcare leaders who responded to this year's Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) survey on meaningful use spending said they expected their IT budgets to increase, adding that meeting "meaningful use" criteria is a driver of that spending.
"Many healthcare executives are paying attention to the improving financial picture, evaluating their systems, and starting to make investments," Barry P. Chaiken, MD, HIMSS board chair, said in a statement. "A year ago, spending was down and hospital were feeling pressure, but the stabilizing of the economy and the ARRA meaningful use provision has provided an incentive for making healthcare IT investments."
Among the survey's findings:
- 35% of the respondents said their organizations' primary clinical IT focus would be ensuring that they have a fully functional electronic medical record (EMR) in place and 27% said they would focus on installing a computerized provider order entry system.
- 34% said security breaches are a top concern, and 23% said their organizations had security breaches in the last year. Thirty percent said their major security concern was compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services security audits.
- 38% said they think "government issues" would have the biggest issue on healthcare in the next two years. In last year's survey, only 6% indicated that belief.
- 66% said they expect to increase the number of IT staff.
- 48% of healthcare respondents said they have fully functioning EMR in at least one facility, an increase from 41% who said they did last year. Twenty-two percent said they have a fully operational EMR throughout their organization, up from 17% last year.
- 37% said they felt IT would have the most impact in its ability to improve quality of care and clinical outcomes. Another 28% felt it would reduce medical errors and improve patient safety.
- 43% said their organizations participate in a health information exchange.
Those surveyed represent 270 unique healthcare organizations and nearly 700 hospitals in the U.S. A total of 85% of respondents said they are senior IT executives and 66% of respondents identified themselves as corporate chief information officers.
HIMSS is a comprehensive healthcare stakeholder organization focused on optimal use of IT.
Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.