12-19-11 | Blog Post

Healthcare IT Priorities: Comprehensive EHRs with Simple Implementation and Low Maintenance

Blog Posts

In order to achieve federal meaningful use requirements, the top planned IT projects include purchasing or upgrading their EMR or EHR software (58 percent). According to a recent InformationWeek.com survey of business technology professionals at physician practices, hospitals, healthcare centers and other healthcare providers, other IT projects include adopting an e-prescribing system (25 percent) and adopting public or private cloud computing (26 percent).

Forty-one percent of respondents reported the need to upgrade infrastructure, networking, Internet technology/web portals and storage in order to comply with meaningful use requirements. Meaningful use refers to the CMS’s (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) requirements for using EHR systems, including the required use in a meaningful and effectual manner, such as e-prescribing, clinical quality measures and others.

When asked about what percentage of their annual IT budget would be spent on EMR or EHR systems this year, 20 percent reported they’d be spending 21 to 30 percent of their budget, while 10 percent will spend 31 to 40 percent of their total budget.

Although an unsurprising 54 percent reported the expense as the top barrier to adopting an electronic medical record system, the second reason was due to negative reactions to using new systems and processes from doctors and other clinicians (30 percent), echoing the government’s concern in the healthcare industry’s technical advancements.  The third barrier is the lack of time (25 percent) and fourth is the potential for disruption in patient care and other processes while implementing systems (24 percent).

When it came to priority ranking of EMR system criteria, the first two included the interoperability/integration within their existing infrastructure (57 percent) and upfront costs (45 percent). However, the third most important criteria was the ease of ongoing maintenance (34 percent), suggesting a number of healthcare professionals and organizations may not have the time or resources required to maintain and upgrade systems.

Another survey statistic that supports the desire for easy system implementation is the 60 percent of respondents that have or will be implementing a comprehensive system from a single vendor, as opposed to the 11 percent that choose to implement a combination of homegrown apps and third-party systems.

The survey also notes the 31 percent of healthcare providers that claim their systems already comply with meaningful use requirements – the article suggests that while these systems may be certified from their vendors as compliant, the healthcare organizations have a responsibility to integrate the system into their existing infrastructure and develop processes that also need to be compliant (this includes employee training). The confusion around owning a compliant technology or system vs. actually being a compliant organization is a common one in the healthcare industry.

Another example of owning or outsourcing a compliant solution vs. actual compliance includes HIPAA compliance. Healthcare providers seeking a HIPAA hosting solution or HIPAA compliant data centers to house their patients’ sensitive protected health information (PHI) often believe they can merely purchase a package to meet HIPAA compliance.

However, there is no HIPAA audited or compliant package that can guarantee your organization is automatically compliant – the healthcare organization is still independently responsible for their policies, procedures and staff training to prepare for passing a potential HIPAA audit. While you can buy tools to help you achieve compliance, you cannot bypass the security precautions that can lead to a data breach or leak. With human error often topping the list as a cause of HIPAA violations, it’s important to take the time to teach and implement best security practices for ultimate prevention. Still have HIPAA questions? Head over to our HIPAA FAQ!

What’s next when it comes to health IT plans in the next upcoming two years? Sixty-two percent are planning or evaluating patient web access to their personal health records, and 58 percent are looking to implement business intelligence tools for analyzing medical data.


CMS EHR Meaningful Use Overview
InformationWeek’s Research: Healthcare IT Priorities Survey

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