News | February 24, 2012

Health Leaders Say Staffing is Top IT Barrier

February 24, 2012 — For the first time in years, information technology (IT) leaders at healthcare organizations did not identify a lack of financial support for IT as an obstacle to implementation; instead, concerns about staffing resources was cited as the key barrier. According to the recently released 23rd Annual HIMSS Leadership Survey, one-quarter of respondents said adequate staffing resources within their organizations is the top barrier to IT implementation and approximately two-thirds of respondents said their IT staff will increase in the next year. Leading areas in which survey respondents require staff are in the areas of clinical decision support, network and architecture support, and clinical informatics professionals.

As healthcare organizations move toward meeting their IT priorities, key areas of focus as reported by the survey’s technology leaders are: achieving meaningful use and ICD-10; participating in health information exchanges (HIEs); addressing security concerns; and IT governance. Highlights of the survey results include:

Nearly 90 percent of respondents expect to complete their ICD-10 conversion by the Oct. 1, 2013 deadline. Two-thirds of respondents also reported that implementing ICD-10 was the top area of focus for financial IT systems at their organization.

More than one-quarter of respondents have already attested to meaningful use. One-quarter of respondents also said that achieving meaningful use is the key business objective at their organization.

Almost half of respondents reported that their organization participates in a HIE. However, 22 percent of respondents said there is an HIE in their area in which they are not participating at this time.

Security continues to be a top concern for healthcare IT professionals. Approximately one-quarter of respondents indicated their organization has experienced a security breach in the past year. 

IT is being successfully integrated into healthcare providers’ overarching business strategy. Half of respondents reported that the IT plan is part of the overall organizational strategic plan.

The majority of respondents believe IT can improve patient care. Three-quarters indicated that IT can impact patient care by improving clinical/quality outcomes, reducing medical errors or helping to standardize care by allowing for the use of evidence-based medicine.

“In recent years, the federal government has spearheaded several initiatives that require hospitals and healthcare organizations to invest in IT in order to improve the quality of care for patients and create cost efficiencies. As a result, healthcare is feeling the impact of these initiatives, as nearly three-quarters of the healthcare IT professionals surveyed said these were the business issues that would drive healthcare forward,” said Jennifer Horowitz, director of research, HIMSS Analytics. “It was interesting to see that staffing resources was cited by the majority of professionals as a key barrier to achieving IT implementation; given the issue has traditionally been a financial resources one. We expect that as organizations continue to invest in IT and hire to fill these positions, IT will become even more ingrained within the healthcare setting.”

For more information: www.himssanalytics.org.

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