EHRs top priority for CIOs

Karl StrohmeyerKarl Strohmeyer

Study shows CIOs optimistic about reform, concerned about security

EHR implementation, meaningful use and compliance are the top three healthcare CIO priorities for 2013, according to a study released Feb. 4 by Level 3.

The study found that EHR implementations are both their single biggest challenge and priority for 2013. However, despite being under the gun to meet the 2015 deadline set by the feds, most support the effort. More than half already have fully implemented EHRs and 79 percent believe the deadline is feasible. CIOs will also invest in new IT and upgrades, with four out of five reporting plans to spend more this year.

“The healthcare industry is at a crossroads,” says Karl Strohmeyer, group vice president of Level 3 Communications, an international communications company, headquartered in Broomfield, Col. “New federal regulations are changing the industry and the way patient care is delivered. What’s most surprising is that healthcare CIOs are both confident and concerned about their ability to manage the changes, largely driven by EHR implementations and meaningful use mandates.”

[See also: EHRs boost federal health center work.]

Strohmeyer says the study revealed CIOs do believe it is important for the industry to move to EHRs for all patient information across the industry, leading to improved patient care and efficiency. But at the same time, CIOs do not feel confident in their abilities to protect sensitive, confidential information from being compromised. And they may not have fully addressed what will be required to protect and share all of that sensitive information across networks connecting hospitals, doctors, specialists and medical researchers.

“Network infrastructure demands will continue to grow as healthcare organizations prepare for increased interconnectivity of healthcare facilities, security demands and other healthcare-related technology advancements,” he says. “The study found that more than three-quarters (76 percent) of respondents are planning to upgrade their network infrastructure in the next two years driven by implementation of EHRs, interconnectivity between providers and facilities and medical imaging demands.”

Other findings from the CIO study include:

  • 61 percent believe advancements in healthcare IT will help make healthcare reform possible;
  • 20 percent experienced a security breach in the past year;
  • 24 percent are using cloud computing, and 17 percent believe mobile will significantly impact their industry;
  • Two-thirds currently have telehealth capabilities 

“The healthcare industry has historically lagged other industries in its adoption of emerging technology trends -- mHealth and cloud computing are likely no different,”  Strohmeyer  says. “While there is a mounting industry focus on cloud and mobile-enabled healthcare, the Level 3-commissioned research indicated that healthcare provider CIOs do not regard these emerging technologies as current priorities for their businesses. This is likely because many IT organizations already have their hands full with EHR implementations and meeting meaningful use requirements.”

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