Pressure on CIOs to pull value from EHRs

'Optimization means significant efforts to leverage your IT investment in a programmatic way'
By Bernie Monegain
10:15 AM
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Money and tech

Healthcare CIOs across the country are, more than ever before, intent on getting the most value from their hospital and health system EHRs.

"Now that most hospitals and health systems have implemented an enterprise EHR, there is also growing internal pressure to realize value from that investment," concludes a report from Impact Advisors, which conducted an online survey of CHIME members. The trade group has more than 1,400 members, all CIOs and health IT professionals.

Four key findings put the spotlight on EHR optimization:

  • More than 70 percent of responding CHIME members agreed -- 36 percent strongly -- that the top IT priorities for their organization in the next 12 months are projects that help them realize more value from their EHR investment.
  • Only 8 percent said they are not focused on EHR optimization right now.
  • Almost three quarters cited "too many competing priorities" as one of the biggest challenges to getting more value out of their EHR; only 30 percent cited "budget concerns."
  • Almost three quarters plan to seek outside assistance from a services firm and/or their EHR vendor in addition to leveraging internal project teams.

As Impact Advisors put it, "optimization" means "significant efforts to leverage your IT investment in a programmatic way" – or, "outcomes-based improvement to meet a defined set of objectives."

It doesn't come easy

While CIOs surveyed indicated they were willing – eager even – to pull the optimal value from EHRs, they also pointed to difficulties.

Almost three-quarters of respondents said there are too many other competing priorities. The results also suggest respondents feel more operational ownership needs to occur in order for optimization to be successful, as 73 percent cited either "lack of process improvement resources to augment IT redesign" or a "lack of operational focus" as a challenge.

However, "budget constraints" was only mentioned by 30 percent of CHIME members as a barrier to getting more value from their EHRs.

When asked which business units have most successfully leveraged the EHR investment in partnership with IT, the most frequently mentioned unit was finance/revenue cycle. The least mentioned were quality and medical group, at 26 percent and 29 percent respectively.

Almost three-quarters of respondents said they plan to rely on outside help (in addition to internal project teams) as they approach optimization over the next two years. More than two thirds said they plan to seek assistance from their EHR vendor in some capacity, while roughly 40 percent plan to turn to an outside services firm.