Magazine Article | November 20, 2012

IT Key To Community Hospital Sustainability

Source: Health IT Outcomes

By Ken Congdon, Editor In Chief,

As recently as five years ago, it seemed that investment in health IT systems was an activity reserved for larger hospitals and IDNs. Many small to midsize community hospitals, by contrast, still relied heavily on paper systems and manual processes. However, in recent years, community hospitals have become some of the most active buyers of health IT in the industry. According to a 2011 report by KLAS, community hospital EHR sales “exploded” in 2010. More than half of the community hospitals contracting for a system over this time period were first-time EHR buyers, while 36% came from providers looking to switch their EHR.

Much of the motivation for technology adoption has come from the Meaningful Use program and associated health IT stimulus incentives, but there is also an increasing realization among community hospitals that technology will be a fundamental component to their long-term sustainability. With healthcare reform, providers of all sizes must strive toward care coordination and improved patient outcomes in order to maximize reimbursements under a pay-for-performance system. Seamless transfer of patient data between providers via EHRs and HIE will be a key enabler of this activity. Furthermore, tracking and measuring electronic data using dashboard and analytics tools will help drive constant improvements in these areas.

The technology rush by community hospitals isn’t limited to EHRs, either. Small to midsize hospitals are also seeking to adopt the latest mobile technologies in an effort to make their clinicians more productive, while enhancing patient care. Likewise, telehealth is viewed as having huge potential in the community hospital market as a way to connect patients in rural areas with specialists in bigger cities. Finally, financial concerns are leading community hospitals to invest in the latest revenue cycle management technologies in an effort to optimize their collections, revenues, and profits in a volatile healthcare industry.

It’s clear that the paper-based community hospitals of yesterday are becoming more and more connected every day. In response, Health IT Outcomes is proud to present its 2013 Community Hospital Health IT Road Map – a compilation of articles that illustrate how small to midsize health providers are embracing the health IT revolution and realizing the positive results these efforts are having on their business operations, patient care, and their bottom line. Click here to access all the articles included in this special peer-to-peer editorial compilation.