Before economic turmoil hit, hospitals had shown important progress in healthcare IT adoption, and for now, many of the initiatives are funded and moving forward, according to an online survey published by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), the National Alliance for Health IT (NAHIT) and the American Hospital Association (AHA) Solutions.
While health IT budgets are not escaping cutbacks, a survey of 144 chief information officers (CIO), 27 chief financial officers (CFO) and vice presidents (VP) of finance identified health IT as important for hospitals. They report found that EMRs, EHRs, computerized provider order entry and electronic medication management remain projects for about half or more of all survey respondents.
To gauge the impact of the volatile economic climate on hospitals and health systems, the associations conducted the survey from Nov. 12-21 with CIOs, CFOs and financial executives. Respondents represent a cross-section of hospitals and health systems of all sizes, locations and teaching status.
The survey found that:
- Fifty-five percent of the CFOs/VPs of finance reported experiencing slight or significant delays in accessing capital and expect the financial crisis to last another 12 to 24 months.
- For now, CFOs/VPs of finance are dealing with budgetary pressures by delaying or lengthening timeframes for completing new facilities or facility upgrades (74 percent), deferring IT equipment purchases (57 percent) and delaying or lengthening timeframes for implementing health IT initiatives (52 percent).
- CIOs are responding by implementing longer timeframes for application projects (63 percent) and reducing spending on outsourced IT services (34 percent).
- Thirty-three percent of CFOs/VPs of finance plan to or have cut budgets, while 26 percent plan or have laid off staff or instituted a hiring freeze.
- Ninety-four percent have cut IT budgets by extending implementation time of existing projects and delaying or reducing the slate of new projects.
Convinced of the importance of health IT in keeping its organizations competitive, the respondents are taking a longer view on health IT projects and are looking for creative ways to push ahead with select system implementations, according to the report.