HIMSS: Leadership survey sees increase in CMIOs, identifies priorities

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LAS VEGAS—One nugget gleaned from the 22nd annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) leadership survey data released is that the number of CMIOs is increasing—with respondents reporting a 6 percent year-over-year increase from 2011. The survey, presented at HIMSS12, included feedback from 302 health IT professionals who represent more than 600 hospitals in the U.S.

Overall trends emerging from this year’s survey include federal initiatives as drivers for IT decisions by healthcare organizations, with one-third of respondents noting that achieving meaningful use is the top IT priority at their organization.

Among those initiatives are healthcare reform (40 percent), policy mandates (23 percent) and health information exchange (8 percent). Two-thirds of the survey base, who were queried in December 2011 and January 2012 prior to the halting of ICD-10 conversion, reported that their top financial IT priority is addressing the conversion to ICD-10.

Almost 90 percent of health IT leaders said they were ready for the conversion. Interestingly, 43 percent of health leaders didn’t know the level of investment into ICD-10 conversion by their organization. (Next on the financial priority list was upgrading a patient billing system, upgrading a patient access system and web-enabling their registration process.)

Meaningful use (MU) will continue to remain the top IT priority for the next two years, 38 percent of respondents said—yet that is down from 49 percent offering the same answer a year ago. Some 26 percent of the organizations represented said they have already attested for Stage 1 MU, while 27 percent will attest in the first 6 months of this year. 

Another 22 percent will attest in the second half of 2012. Only 2 percent said they don’t plan to attest. More than half of the survey base anticipates return-on-investment for meeting MU requirements will be up to $3 million, another 15 percent expect return-on-investment of $4 million to $5 million, 13 percent expect $10 million or more and 10 percent predict returns of $6 million to $7 million. About 8 percent aren’t sure.

And those returns come at a price, with a quarter of respondents gauging their level of investment at $1 million to $4 million and 14 percent estimating they’ll spend under $250,000.

Consistent with the monies being spent on MU is getting a fully operational EHR in place, which was reported by a quarter of survey respondents (unchanged from 2011). Other clinical IT focuses are physician systems and installing computer physician order entry. The most significant barriers to implementing IT was a lack of financial resources, the first time in a decade that something other than lack of adequate financial support came out on top. Ranking third in terms of barriers was vendor inability to deliver product, followed by difficulty of end-user acceptance and lack of time commitment from clinicians.

Overall operating budgets are up, said 56 percent of health leaders—a bump of 10 percentage points over 2011’s survey. Another 20 percent said budgets will probably increase. Only 7 percent expect a budget decrease.