Survey: Patient safety remains biggest appeal of health IT

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Most healthcare providers view the primary benefit of health IT as a means to reduce medical errors and increase patient safety, according to the 18th Annual HIMSS Leadership Survey results released this week.
The 360 respondents to this year’s survey also voiced that improving quality of care and patient satisfaction will top business issues impacting healthcare over the coming two years. Respondents represented some 306 healthcare organizations and almost 700 U.S. hospitals. 
"As the survey results demonstrate, improving quality and patient safety continue to be primary health industry goals," said George (Buddy) Hickman, HIMSS board chair. "Our survey respondents reinforce the view that health information technology adoption is foundational to achievement of such quality, patient safety and necessary clinical process improvements."
According to the results, nine of the top 10 healthcare applications identified as being important for the future were clinical systems. These included electronic medical records (EMRs), computerized practitioner order entry (CPOE), and clinical information systems.
Getting the necessary budget support to back IT continues to be a concern for health IT executives with 20 percent of respondents citing lack of adequate financial support as their most significant barrier to implementation. However, nearly three-quarters of respondents reported that their IT operating budget will increase in the next year, which a good number of respondents attribute to an overall growth in systems and technologies at their facilities.   
More technologies should mean more staffing to manage it, but while nearly two-thirds of respondents indicate that the number of IT full-time employees (FTEs) in their organization will increase in the next 12 months, the change will be modest. Just over one-third of respondents indicated that their staff would increase by less than 10 percent. The greatest demand for staffing is predicted to be in the area of clinical informatics.
One thing that has made big headlines lately is health IT-related security, and predictably this is another big woe for CIOs. Security problems include internal breaches. Eighteen percent of respondents indicated that their organization has experienced a security breach in the past six months. Most respondents indicated that they would adopt a multi-pronged approach to assure data security over the next two years.
Regarding specific technologies likely to be adopted in the next two years, bar coding technology, high-speed networks and intranets topped the list.
And healthcare organizations are not just looking to facilitate communication in just their own facilities. According to the survey, nearly 25 percent of respondents reported that their organization participates in a RHIO (Regional Health Information Organizations).
Overall there appears to be a strong level of integration between IT strategies and overall organizational strategies. Along these lines, over 80 percent of CIOs reported that they sit on their organization’s executive team.
As for vendor news, 60 percent of respondents indicated that they were satisfied with the overall IT products/services they receive from suppliers, application vendors and consulting firms.
HIMSS said that data from a complementary survey, focusing on CEOs, will be available on the HIMSS Web site this summer. To read the complete 18th Annual HIMSS Leadership Survey report visit