Meaningful use spurs progress, concerns

New survey finds health IT execs optimistic for future, struggling in present

Meaningful use will bring about the most significant improvements in the health information technology arena, say health IT executives, who are working tirelessly to meet industry deadlines. However, a new survey finds it's still a trying task, with officials citing regulation ambiguity and competing IT projects as the biggest barriers to moving forward with MU.

The survey, conducted by the Stoltenberg Consulting firm, includes insight from HIT management, physicians, clinicians, government agencies and HIT vendors who attended the 2013 HIMSS Annual Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans.

Although health IT executives expect meaningful use to yield big improvements for their organization, the road to attestation is oftentimes uphill. "Organizations still need to overcome the hurdles inherent in meeting meaningful use . . . before they can reap the benefits of it," said Shane Pilcher, vice president of Stoltenberg Consulting, in a press statement.

[See also: CMS pays out nearly $12.7B to date in meaningful use EHR adoption incentives.]

Survey respondents also identified the three greatest challenges in fulfilling meaningful use requirements in their organizations as:

  1. Confusion and/or ambiguity about the regulation itself (29 percent); 
  2. Competing health IT projects (23 percent); 
  3. Lack of resources such as funding, IT skill, talent and time (17 percent)
These challenges, although relevant to hospitals of all sizes, "are particularly daunting for rural and community hospitals," noted Pilcher. "To have the best chance of meeting meaningful use, smaller hospitals should develop an effective plan of action that unites IT, internal administration and clinical providers."
 
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Survey findings also underscored the top three issues likely to dominate the health IT dialogue for the remainder of 2013: 
 
  • Health information exchange (62 percent); 
  • Mobile health (58 percent); 
  • Clinical Analytics (54 percent)

[See also: EHR users unhappy, many switching.]

"Like meaningful use, health information exchange, mobile health and clinical analytics can all ultimately have a positive impact on an organization's bottom line in addition to the ability to improve healthcare delivery," Pilcher explained. But the implementation process has to be done correctly. 

According to survey findings, the issues or problems that health IT executives would most likely consult with a specialized IT consulting firm to resolve are: ICD-10 (25 percent); meaningful use (25 percent); clinical and business intelligence (23 percent); cloud computing (21 percent); and CPOE/clinical systems implementation (20 percent).