News | February 19, 2015

Healthcare IT Administrators’ Budgets, Skill Sets Stretched by Regulatory Mandates

New study finds companies turning to third-party partners to meet requirements with limited staff, expertise

Peak 10, healthcare IT, information technology, study, mandates, PACS, EHR

February 19, 2015 — Three out of five healthcare IT professionals believe that government mandates are having a negative effect on their industry, according to a study conducted by Peak 10, a national information technology (IT) infrastructure and cloud services provider. The majority (94 percent) also noted that complying with regulations influences IT strategy and decision-making. With rare exception, respondents claimed they lack the expertise necessary to navigate the maze of government regulations.

These were among the key findings in The Peak 10 National IT Trends in Healthcare Study in which C-level executives and information technology professionals at 149 United States healthcare organizations were asked to provide their insights into industry challenges and the future state of the healthcare industry.

From an IT perspective, healthcare is under tremendous pressure to make non-revenue producing investments and to divert scarce resources away from innovation and new application development. According to the study, cost cutting and cost containment are also cause for concern for healthcare organizations and exacerbated by the fact that many IT departments are already under-staffed and under-funded.

Other key findings from the study include:

  • Healthcare companies are cautiously but steadily moving into the cloud with software as service (SaaS) and non-mission critical workloads (administrative/corporate systems). Cloud adoption is mainly driven by regulatory mandates around electronic health records (EHRs).
  • A 77-percent majority of hospitals, biotech firms, pharmaceuticals and insurance providers are seeking partners and assistance to help them maintain high reliability, while 70 percent of respondents said they need partners to assist with security and data privacy concerns.
  • Mobility, EHR, patient portals and regulation are the critical technology topics that will make the greatest impact on healthcare IT environments.
  • Insurance organizations' budgets are under the most pressure: a 59-percent majority indicated that their IT budgets would either decline (25 percent) or remain static (38 percent) over the next two years. By contrast only one-third – 34 percent - of insurance firms polled said IT budgets would increase over the next 24 months.
  • Presently, about 50 percent of IT healthcare companies surveyed indicated they use a third-party integrator or partner to assist them with their IT strategy.
  • Among the 50 percent of healthcare IT companies that use a third-party integrator/partner to assist with IT strategy, 70 percent cited depth of technical knowledge as the top reason. This was followed by 60 percent who indicated that third-party partners alleviate the time and resource constraints on internal IT staff.

 

While the situation within healthcare IT organizations is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future, the results also indicate that technology is a critical part of their strategy for business success and patient satisfaction.

"Healthcare organizations need a smooth transition to EHR systems," said Christina Kyriazi, manager of market insights and analytics at Peak 10. "Technology is seen as the enabler to a better patient experience, giving patients more control over their personal information and healthcare history, therefore empowering them to trust their healthcare provider and to make more sound and well-informed decisions for themselves."

U.S. government initiatives, such as the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records Incentive Program, were established to help move healthcare organizations forward on the technology front by providing EHR incentive payments to eligible professionals (EPs) and hospitals as they adopt, implement, upgrade or demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology. Healthcare organizations are feeling the strain of implementing these systems with too few skilled resources, as government regulatory compliance mandates have already burdened their strained IT assets. At the same time, most must also ensure regulatory compliance while guaranteeing high reliability and strong security. Many are looking to third-party suppliers for assistance.

According to Allen Skipper, chief commercial officer for Peak 10, pressures from government, budgets and keeping up with evolving requirements, coupled with the heightened demand for technology to support the patient experience, translate to a critical need for knowledgeable IT partners to provide access to technology, while serving as a collaborative resource to ensure staff are versed in rapidly changing security mandates.

"It's not enough for cloud and data center services providers to help customers maximize their IT assets," said Skipper. "It's critical for these partners to continually engage in initiatives to better understand the needs of today's healthcare IT professionals now and in the future, driving innovation and enabling developments to further enhance patient care quality and safety."

For more information: www.peak10.com

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