EMRs Top Priority For 58% Of Hospital CIOs

CIOs rank electronic medical records projects higher than IT managers and directors, who are focused on PC refreshes.

With $20 billion-plus worth of meaningful use bonuses from the government at stake for their organizations, E-medical records and electronic ordering systems are the top IT priorities for hospital CIOs over the next two years, according to a survey.

However, among hospital IT managers and directors, EMR projects ranked further down on the IT priority list, with only 25% naming those initiatives as "most important" for their organization over the next two years.

The survey of 178 respondents, including 36 CIOs and 142 IT directors and managers at hospitals with 200 or more beds, was commissioned by HP and conducted earlier this year by research firm NewGrowth Consulting.

The survey was designed to ask about hospital IT leaders' IT priorities and plans, especially those initiatives involving PCs.

Among CIOs surveyed, 58% named EMR systems as their most important IT project over the next 24 months, while computerized physician order entry came in at a close second, named by 56%.

Respondents could choose more than one answer.

The CIO results are in synch with the biggest theme in healthcare IT today -- the federal government's push for hospitals and doctor practices to implement EMR, CPOE, and other e-health systems over the next several years.

Under the HITECH portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed into law in February 2009, the federal government plans to begin in 2011 rewarding healthcare providers with more than $20 billion over the next several years for their meaningful use of health IT systems such as EMR and CPOE.

Coming in third among top IT priorities of hospital CIOs was security initiatives, named by 47% of respondents, followed by database initiatives, with 42%. Other IT projects on the CIO priority list include bar-coded medication administration (36%); hospital expansion (33%); PC refresh (31%); and thin client/PC virtualization (31%).

However, further down the hospital IT leadership totem pole, IT management priorities -- where PCs were involved -- differed somewhat from those of CIOs.

Hospital IT managers and directors named PC refresh (51%); security initiatives (42%); and CPOE (37%) as their top IT projects for the next 24 months. That was followed by hospital expansion (34%); BCMA (33%); and database initiatives (30%).

Among hospital IT managers and directors surveyed, EMR ranked 7th, being named by 25% of the respondents. The survey also found that nearly two-thirds of hospital CIOs planned PC virtualization for some of their client hardware.

Also, nearly six in 10 hospital CIOs said their organizations did not have a telemedicine program, while 41% said their hospitals did have such initiatives underway. Most CIOs with telemedicine programs plan to expand those efforts in the next 24 months.

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