CHIME: EHR implementation is big hurdle for CIOs to meet meaningful use
ATLANTA—Upgrading or implementing a certified EHR system will be one of the largest challenges for healthcare CIOs and IT executives in helping their organizations meet the meaningful use requirements, according to a survey released today by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) during the HIMSS10 conference.

While CIOs continue to express trepidation over the pressures to meet the criteria for HITECH stimulus funding, the need to install new or upgraded systems to meet meaningful use requirements was ranked as the top issue by nearly 30 percent of respondents, with 41 percent listing it among their top three concerns, according to CHIME. Other leading concerns for CIOs regarding EHR implementation include insufficient capital for purchasing systems, doubts about vendor readiness and staffing capabilities.

The survey, which was conducted in early February, found that more than 90 percent of its responding 238 members expressed at least some degree of concern about whether they will qualify for stimulus funding. Specifically, 27 percent of respondents said they were worried about meeting the requirements for meaningful use specified in the proposed rules, while 34 percent said they were somewhat worried and 27 percent indicated they were only slightly worried.

“The ‘all or nothing’ approach for qualifying as a meaningful user, and the uncertainty over what the final rule will look like, pose a significant concern for CIOs, even at those organizations that have already made significant investments in technology,” said Indranil Ganguly, vice president and CIO at CentraState Healthcare System, Freehold, N.J., and a member of CHIME’s Policy Steering Committee, which has been analyzing the proposed regulations.

When asked about attaining proposed meaningful use objectives, more than a quarter of CIOs—28 percent—said their biggest problem will be installing new EHR systems or upgrading existing applications.

Other issues also will make it difficult to achieve meaningful use. For example, capturing and submitting quality data ranked second among top concerns, mentioned by 15 percent of respondents, and more respondents ranked it among their top three concerns—46 percent—than any other concern.

In rating concerns about implementing a certified EHR system, more than one in five respondents cited the need to implement a new system or upgrade an existing application. Lack of capital for purchasing EHR systems was listed as a top concern by 18 percent of respondents.

Meanwhile, 48 percent expressed concern about vendor readiness, both in terms of vendors’ ability to develop certified products and expected delays in vendor support of EHR system installations.

Current IT staffing levels, and whether existing staff have the requisite skills to implement advanced clinical systems, was rated highest among 11 percent of members surveyed and among the top three concerns of nearly half of all respondents.

A full summary report of the survey may be accessed below: