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HIMSS 2012: Staffing trumps financing as IT barrier

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | February 22, 2012
Health care organizations with IT projects are looking for a few good men and women, according to a new survey of hospital IT experts.

Unlike in its last health IT leadership survey, a dearth of qualified staff trumped financing as the number one barrier to implementing health IT reforms, HIMSS said Wednesday at its annual meeting in Las Vegas.

Also, while the federal government might be delaying ICD-10 implementation, at least for some health care groups, the poll found almost 90 percent of health care IT types from bigger institutions say they're on track to meet the original October 2013 deadlines.

The Web based Annual HIMSS Leadership Survey polled 302 health IT professionals, mostly chief information officers and IT directors, representing more than 600 hospitals. The average hospital bed size was 479, HIMSS said.

About 21 percent of the IT experts named lack of staffing resources as the main barrier to IT implementation, up from 17 percent in last year's survey. Possibly as a consequence, about 61 percent of respondents said they were hiring new IT workers over the next 12 months, HIMSS said. However, oddly enough, attracting qualified staff was only listed as the key business objective by 1 percent of respondents, dwarfed by the leading answer, achieving meaningful use, which got a 24 percent response.

The number two barrier, lack of financing, polled at 14 percent, down from 18 percent in 2011. The third most-named barrier, vendors not delivering the product, was basically unchanged at 12 percent.

ICD-10 push

Implementing a massive morbidity classification update, the ICD-10, was a big focus, HIMSS said. About two-thirds of respondents said it was their main financial IT aim. While a plurality of respondents (43 percent) couldn't say how much they invested in their ICD-10 conversion, 29 percent said it was less than $1 million, 15 percent between $1 million and $4 million, and 4 percent greater than $5 million. Nine out of 10 respondents said they hoped to meet the October 2013 deadline originally called for by the federal government, though now seemingly delayed.

As for clinical IT systems, getting a fully functional electronic medical record system up and running dominated the IT focus of polled organizations, the survey said, with a quarter of respondents saying it was their main goal. Only 1 percent of respondents said installing a new PACS was their main aim, HIMSS said. And for IT infrastructure, servers and mobile devices topped the charts, with about one-fifth of respondents saying one or the other was their primary focus. Surprisingly, perhaps, cloud computing and telemedicine were not priorities for many organizations, named the primary infrastructure goal by only 3 and 2 percent of respondents, respectively.

Security, meaningful use

The ONC is expected to release Stage 2 details at HIMSS' conference this week, but the leadership survey indicated that most organizations already have attested to Stage 1 meaningful use or will have by mid-2012. About 26 percent have already attested, the survey said, and 49 percent will by the end of this year. Nearly 17 percent are waiting until 2013, and 3 percent say they have no meaningful use plans, HIMSS said.

Of course, security remains a concern, with nearly a quarter of respondents saying their institution had experienced a breach in the past year, HIMSS said.

Check back with DOTmed News this week for live updates from the show in Las Vegas.

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