Lots of good stuff and analysis over at Information Week Healthcare: This site has been my go-to resource for an at-a-glance representation of what is going on in the various healthcare IT and informatics “silos”. Good job guys! Really interesting survey data, but I don’t share the optimism that genomics is going to play such a significant role anytime soon. It might be that building in access to genomics and pharmacogenomics data is good for EHR vendors to do, because it will be clinically useful in 2025 or such, and the systems should be forward-looking with a lifetime of value-add and ROI. But don’t expect the addition of gene sequencing to improve patient care in the short to mid-term. Anyway, on to the survey highlights and analysis:
There’s a big problem with how the vast majority of healthcare providers—let’s say, practices with fewer than 10 docs—are dealing with federal requirements for meaningful use, which they must meet to get subsidies. Most of them aren’t dealing with the real requirements at all. And they’re so focused on meeting deadlines, they risk picking the wrong electronic medical record software.
While hospitals have IT departments and some level of resources to throw at the meaningful use program, most docs are heads down seeing patient after patient, with little interest in poring over pages of requirements, let alone figuring out how to meet and then report on them.
Nearly six in 10 healthcare organizations still need to buy an EHR system or upgrade an existing one to qualify for the federal funds, according the InformationWeek Analytics’ Healthcare IT Priorities Survey of 357 business technology professionals at healthcare providers. And 62% of respondents who have EHRs or are planning them say they’ll spend more than 20% of their annual IT budget on EHR projects this year. In other words, there’s still a lot of heavy lifting for U.S. hospitals and doctors’ practices to deploy systems that comply with federal guidelines.
Qualifying for the funds isn’t easy. Health-care providers must be using certified EHR systems that meet federal requirements, and they have to demonstrate that they’re making “meaningful use” of those systems, complying with a laundry list of 20 requirements for medical practices and 19 for hospitals. And they have to do all this for 90 consecutive days before the end of next year.
Despite the complicated process, a surprising
83% of respondents who are evaluating, deploying, or have deployed EHRs are confident they’ll meet the federal government’s deadlines and qualify for incentive funds. Specifically, 52% of them say they’re “very confident” and 31% are “somewhat confident”
A quarter of respondents anticipate no problems with EHR adoption in their organizations. That’s a high number considering the potential issues that can come up when deploying an EHR system, such as negative reactions from physicians and staff, disruption to patient care, security and privacy mistakes, and shortages of technical expertise. It could very well be that providers underestimate how challenging meaningful use compliance is.
Among respondents, an eyebrow-raising 31% of healthcare providers say their EHR systems already comply with the government’s meaningful use requirements. What they likely mean is that their systems have been certified as meaningful use compliant.
However, certification ensures only that products have the features and functionality needed to accomplish meaningful use. Additional programming and workflow adjustments often are needed to integrate with other systems and processes in a healthcare organization. Significant staff training is commonly required.
Healthcare providers also must ensure that their EHR systems are collecting the data needed to demonstrate that they’re using the systems in a meaningful way—to show that a certain percentage of patients have drugs ordered electronically and have lists of their allergies and medical problems in the system, for instance.
It’s not uncommon for healthcare providers to think they’re making great progress meeting meaningful use requirements, only to discover they’re missing the mark, says Dana Sellers, CEO of Encore Health Resources, a health IT consulting firm.
Healthcare has been slow to embrace cloud computing. Only 14% of respondents to InformationWeek Analytics 2011 Healthcare IT Priorities Survey are using public cloud services, while 47% have no plans to use either public or private clouds.
Thirty percent of companies across all industries use some public cloud services and just 33% have no plans to use cloud computing, according to InformationWeek Analytics’ State Of Cloud Computing Survey.
Electronic healthcare records are the most common application being hosted. More than 30% of survey respondents using public or private clouds are using it for this, followed by storage (28%) and financial apps (25%).
Clinical decision support, chronic disease management, business intelligence, and giving patients Web access to personal health records will get significant attention in the next 12 months, even though they aren’t connected directly to the first round of meaningful use requirements. Having technology in place for any
of these areas could help providers comply with later stages of meaningful use, however.
At Cleveland Clinic, the development of BI dashboards is a priority this year. The medical center has developed 20 dashboards over the past several years that are used by executives, nurse managers, and others to analyze financial, operations, clinical, quality-of-care, and other data, says Andrew Procter, administrative director of medical operations at Cleveland Clinic Innovations, the facility’s technology commercialization arm. The medical center has a “queue of requests” from clinicians throughout the organization, Procter says. “It’s a big part of what we do. It’s a big part of the culture” to use analysis that aligns clinical, financial, operations, and quality-of-care data to shape better decisions.
Mobile computing is another area getting attention. University General Surgeons, in Knoxville, Tenn., is evaluating whether to provide its six surgeons with tablet PCs with a hosted billing application. The tablet and app would make it easier for the physicians to document treatment information needed for billing while at a patient’s hospital bedside, rather than writing notes on paper and entering the charges later in the office, says practice administrator Michael Poulsen.