New poll takes pulse of HL7 profession

By Mike Miliard
11:06 AM

A recent survey of healthcare professionals who deal with HL7 integration, conducted by Core Health Technologies, finds some interesting facts about their use of technology, knowledge of programs such as meaningful use and strategies for information security.

Charlie Rogers, CEO of Core Health, which specializes in technology integration and security, calls the integration market "one of today’s most dynamic spaces in healthcare and in technology."

His firm polled some 1,350 individuals – CIO, CTOs, IT managers and other HL7 professionals – seeking to gauge their feelings on the state of technology, organizational priorities, meaningful use preparedness and confidence in interface software vendors.

Health Level Seven International (HL7) is a not-for-profit, ANSI-accredited organization that develops healthcare interoperability standards.

Among the findings from Core Health's survey:

  • Most HL7 professionals have experience, but generally have limited tenure at their specific employers. Some 60 percent of respondents reported having 10 or more years of experience in healthcare, but 48 percent of the those had spent fewer than three years at their current organization.
  • Interface engine usage is diverse. Cloverleaf is still the leader in market share, but more and more interface technologies are finding favor. "One interesting observation is that the Oracle/Sun/SeeBeyond product line of DataGate, e*Gate, ICAN and JCAPS has declined pretty significantly over the last three years, from 34 percent in 2010, passing through 17 percent in 2011, and now rating around below 7 percent in 2012," wrote Core Health officials.
  • Interface engines show room for improvement. Nearly half of all respondents – including 49.5 percent of CIO/CTOs, 46.6 percent of IT managers and 42.7 percent of HL7 professionals – report that while they're using their interface engine for what it was initially intended, they know it has more capabilities they are not using.
  • There's a lack of organization-wide awareness of industry and policy initiatives. Even as many health organizations are intently focused on working toward meaningful use, nearly one-third (31 percent) of HL7 professionals say they didn't know how prepared their organizations are to meet those mandates. Another four percent said they don't even know what meaningful use is.
  • While seen as important, security is not listed as a top organizational priority. Just two percent of survey respondents said information security was one of their top their priorities. But when asked how information security affects their top priorities, 89 percent of CIOs and 90 percent of IT managers said security is either integral to at least one their organization’s top priorities, or it is their top priority.
  • Integration continues to be a crucial concern. Some 90 percent of CIO and CTOs, 91 percent of IT Managers, and 90 percent of HL7 professionals told Core Health that integration was either the top priority, integral to a top priority or integral to all their priorities. More than 60 percent of respondents said their integration activities will increase over the next 12 months. Fewer than 10 percent of respondents said their integration activities will decrease.
  • No staff retention strategy. About one-third of all organizations polled are currently lacking staff retention strategy; another 23 percent do not have strategies but are currently working on them. "While anecdotal, we question whether that the lack of retention strategies and low organizational tenure of HL7 professionals could be connected," write Core Health officials.