HIMSS14 Survey: Healthcare CIOs Focus On Fiscal Survival

HIMSS members say top business objective is to sustain financial viability as regulation, payment models change.
8 Healthcare Startups Catch Fire
8 Healthcare Startups Catch Fire
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Healthcare CIOs see the issues they currently confront as very high stakes, according to the 2014 HIMSS Leadership Survey, released at the health IT organization's annual conference this week.

The top business objective cited by those surveyed (primarily hospital and hospital-based health system IT executives) was to sustain financial viability, which was rated the top issue by 25% of respondents. That's up from 21% last year and from just 15% in 2012. These results reflect increasing anxiety about the shape of healthcare reform and broader payment and reimbursement trends.

The related goal of improving operational efficiency followed closely behind (16%), while using technology to improve quality of care and achieving meaningful use both weighed in at 14%.

[For more analysis from the show floor, read HIMSS14: Health IT's Next Boom Cycle.]

Achieving Meaningful Use goals still rates as the top IT priority for the next two years, top-ranked by 25% (down slightly from 28% last year). "We think that might be because they're talking about a level of readiness," suggested HIMSS analytics senior director of research Jennifer Horowitz. In other words, it's a slightly lower priority because hospitals are now less worried about achieving it.

Most organizations (71%) do expect to be able to attest to Meaningful Use Stage 2 compliance in 2014, and another 19% expect to get there in 2015. Completing the conversion of systems to support ICD-10 diagnosis codes by the October deadline dictated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is also a top priority, but it falls a little farther down the list, cited by 16% of those surveyed.

Still, ICD-10 is a cause for anxiety because of its connection to government reimbursement. "If we didn't reach [Meaningful Use] Stage 2, it would be embarrassing," said Anupam Goel, VP of clinical information for Advocate Healthcare, who attended a press briefing on the survey. "ICD-10 is something where if we didn't get it right, we could go bankrupt."

Download Healthcare IT In The Obamacare Era, the InformationWeek Healthcare digital issue on changes driven by regulation. Modern technology created the opportunity to restructure the healthcare industry around accountable care organizations, but ACOs also put new demands on IT.