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Health IT Priorities: Time To Deliver

Grabbing federal incentive dollars and meeting pay-for-performance regs are the top issues keeping IT execs awake at night.

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Health IT Priorities Survey

Healthcare IT organizations have a lot to juggle in 2012, not the least of which are Stage 1 and 2 Meaningful Use, ICD-10 conversion, and various pay-for-performance initiatives. As deadlines sneak up and pressure builds, healthcare providers are intensifying their focus.

Overall, the top IT priorities of healthcare organizations in 2012 are similar to those in 2011, according to our latest InformationWeek Healthcare IT Priorities Survey. In both years, 64% of respondents rated managing patient data or e-health records as their top priority, followed by meeting regulatory requirements, which was rated a top priority by 61% in 2012 and 60% in 2011.

Reducing costs was cited as a priority by 45% of survey respondents this year and 43% last year, followed closely by improving care, named a top priority by 44% of respondents both years.

However, since the latest InformationWeek Healthcare IT Priorities Survey was taken in January, at least one of the immediate regulatory demands on healthcare providers has become less urgent. The Department of Health and Human Services announced in mid-February that it would extend the deadline for transitioning to ICD-10 (its coding system for diseases, symptoms, and the like) from October 2013 to a yet-unspecified later date.

While the American Medical Association has for months been pressuring HHS to extend that deadline, other organizations, including the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, reacted negatively to the extension. In a letter to HHS, HIMSS warned that a delay would disrupt progress healthcare organizations have already made in transitioning from ICD-9 to ICD-10. A survey HIMSS conducted in December and January of 302 healthcare IT professionals found that nearly 90% of them expected their organizations to complete their conversions by the October 2013 deadline.

Nonetheless, other government-related health IT programs remain huge priorities, especially Meaningful Use compliance, which was also the top IT priority for respondents to the recent HIMSS survey, rated tops by 38% of them.

In our survey, the top three IT projects respondents said they've already completed or expect to complete in the next 24 months--EHR, computerized physician order entry, and e-prescribing--are all closely tied to HITECH Act incentive programs.

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