By Christine Kern, contributing writer
Results reinforce the positive impact of health IT on the economy but finds challenges ahead.
Combining the annual HIMSS Leadership Survey and the biennial HIMSS Workforce Study, the HIMSS Leadership and Workforce Survey report investigates the health IT priorities of key stakeholder groups and their connections to various strategic initiatives and economic measures. The report found while health IT leaders continue to report positive market growth metrics, staffing structures and experiences in non-hospital provider settings suggest a need to address the unique challenges these providers face.
The study polled 368 U.S. health IT leaders (210 from a healthcare provider organization and 158 from a healthcare IT vendor/consulting organization), and revealed several significant themes:
- Health IT leaders agree on the top clinical IT priorities for the coming year, with divergent priorities demonstrating a healthy tension within the marketplace.
- Vendors/consultants have a good pulse on the clinical IT priorities of hospital-associated providers.
- Health IT continues to be a “bright spot” in the U.S. economy, though some markers point to potential challenges to extending health IT’s footprint beyond the hospital environment.
- One barrier to adopting health IT in care provider settings outside the hospital is the lack of IT champions, with only 32 percent of ambulatory care and long-term post-acute care organizations employing a dedicated senior IT executive, versus 87 percent of hospitals.
The 2017 Leadership and Workforce also found disconnect between providers and vendors/consultants on select clinical IT priorities, especially EHRs. Providers and vendors may be talking past one another on key issues, resulting in a considerable amount of inefficiencies.
The study additionally found profit motive may be a more significant consideration for non-hospital providers in decisions involving clinical IT than for hospital providers. Further, clinical issues have varying degrees of industry appeal and efforts/expectations to engage the industry surrounding these issues should thus be modified accordingly.
Since the vendors/consultants appear to be better aligned with the priorities of hospitals than with other provider groups, the study found, “To be a relevant force in advancing clinical IT in the non-hospital provider market, vendors/consultants will need to better understand the interests and needs of ambulatory and LTPAC providers.” In particular, efforts to advance clinical IT on non-hospital provider settings can be challenging when there is no dedicated IT workforce.