Providers look to IT to counter physician shortage
With the physician shortage growing, healthcare providers are looking to health IT to deliver time savings and improved efficiencies, according to a market survey.
"Healthcare providers view technology as one of the variables that will improve their practice and patient care," said Tim Herbert, vice president of research for CompTIA, which conducted the annual survey.
The survey, which was fielded in September 2009, noted that 82 percent of respondents who have electronic medical records implemented the technology to improve their patient care. Saving time and improving efficiency was a factor for 83 percent of the respondents.
Emerging fields of technology are becoming more commonplace as health providers take advantage of their benefits, said Herbert. Mobile devices, for example, bring healthcare to the patient, enabling providers more time for other patients.
The survey, which included 300 healthcare providers and 200 healthcare IT firms, indicated that 59 percent of respondents are "somewhat to very excited" about telemedicine. Healthcare providers indicated that down the road they would explore telemedicine. For providers in rural locations, which have been hit hard by the primary care physician shortage, telemedicine brings the promise of greater access to healthcare, Herbert said.
The data also showed that approximately one-third of healthcare providers canceled or postponed their health IT initiatives due to the economic environment.
"There needs to be clear ROI, a clear path to greater efficiency," Herbert said. The rest of the respondents, however, have experienced greater efficiency within their business.
Also, "two-thirds were satisfied with the IT systems they have in place and satisfied with their IT firms - integrators and consultants," Herbert said.
Healthcare IT firms are recognizing the trends in the market, he said. Seventy-four percent of healthcare IT company respondents said their clients want to incorporate new technologies into their facilities. Approximately two in three respondents noted that their clients are more interested in better patient care than time savings and improved efficiencies.