Investing in Information Technology Pays Off: Meaningful Use Stage 1 Met by Majority of US Hospitals

March/April 2013 Vol 6, No 2 - Industry Trends
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According to a new Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Leadership Survey ( 022813.pdf), which was released at the 2013 HIMSS annual conference, the government’s efforts to impact provider investments in information technology (IT) to qualify for Meaningful Use and International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) conversions are paying off.

“We found this year that healthcare organizations are making strong progress towards federal mandates,” said Jennifer Horowitz, CPHIMS, FHIMSS, Senior Director of Research for HIMSS Analytics. “It seems we have reached a tipping point.”

This annual survey covers a range of topics crucial to health IT. The survey included 298 respondents, primarily senior IT executives, who represented almost 600 hospitals in the United States. Data were collected via a web-based survey from December 2012 to February 2013.

The survey results showed that 66% of those leading health organizations, mostly hospitals, have already qualified for Meaningful Use Stage 1, and 75% expect to qualify for Stage 2 in 2014. ICD-10 conversion is expected to be completed on time by 87% of respondents.

Other key results from the survey included:

  • 51% of respondents reported that their organization participates in at least 1 health information exchange in their area
  • 47% indicated that implementing Current Procedural Terminology-10/ICD-10 continues to be the top focus for their financial IT systems
  • Most respondents noted that IT can impact patient care by improving clinical and quality outcomes, reducing medical errors, or helping to standardize care by the use of evidence-based medicine
  • 22% noted that a focus on security systems was their current key infrastructure priority
  • 19% reported a security breach in the past year; the current concerns largely pertain to ensuring that information delivered on mobile devices is secure.

Level of Investment
Only 5% of organizations made no investment in Meaningful Use Stage 1 last year; 17% invested between $1 million and $2 million, 11% invested $3 million to $4 million, 6% invested between $5 million and $9 million, and 5% invested ≥$20 million.

The expected return on this investment was less than $2 million for 30% of respondents, whereas 23% expected a return of $2 million to $3 million and 16% expected to see a return of $4 million to $5 million.

Of note, 7% of respondents expected a return on investment of at least $10 million. For Meaningful Use Stage 2, the majority (38%) of the respondents in the survey expected to see less than a $2-million return on investment.

Almost 50% of the respondents said that the primary financial IT focus is on implementing ICD-10, which is due by October 2014. Of the respondents, 20% planned to invest less than $250,000 for this purpose, but 33% did not know how much this effort would cost. In addition, 15% of the respondents planned to devote funds to upgrading their financial analytics systems.

A definite increase in IT budgets was predicted by 47% of respondents, and a probable increase by 29%, primarily owing to the overall growth in IT systems and the need for additional staff.

Lingering Cost Concerns
Survey respondents continue to express concerns about IT staffing shortages, vis-à-vis the growing role of IT in healthcare. Approximately 50% of the respondents plan to increase their IT staff over the next year, but 21% were concerned that their IT objectives could not be sufficiently met because of a lack of staff. The greatest staffing need was in the area of clinical application support, which was indicated by 33% of respondents.

A lack of adequate financial support was a potential barrier for 15% of respondents, and 13% worried that the vendor would be unable to deliver the product. Difficulty in end-user acceptance, however, was rarely a concern, as was difficulty proving return on investment as this concept matures, which were expressed by only 7% and 4% of users, respectively.

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