When it comes to investment in networking solutions for healthcare information technology, data security (67 percent) and productivity gains (60 percent) rank as major factors, according to respondents of the 2004 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Networking Technology Survey, sponsored by Cisco Systems and supported by the HIMSS Foundation. Compliance with governmental regulations (54 percent) and expected operational cost savings (53 percent) were also identified among the top four reasons for technology expenditures.

Most respondents indicated that a combination of factors, usually four of the choices identified above, influenced their investment in technology. The survey was administered at the 2004 Annual HIMSS Conference & Exhibition in February 2004 in Orlando, Fla.

"The survey results demonstrate that many different factors affect a provider's decision to invest in healthcare IT," said Joyce Sensmeier, RN, CPHIMS and HIMSS director of professional services. "Many healthcare organizations look at networking solutions in terms of patient needs and productivity enhancements, so it makes sense that securing data and increasing efficiency should be among the top priorities when allocating budget dollars for IT investments."

The survey results also indicate that the benefits that networking solutions can provide to an organization are well-documented and accepted. Improving staff productivity and reducing operating costs were each identified by respondents as benefits for the various networking technologies included in the survey. Conversely, only 31 percent of the respondents said that determining productivity needs was a consideration in technology investments.

As the use and importance of information technology escalates among healthcare organizations, network security, wireless networks, and mobile device technologies were identified as both the most important solutions and investment priorities for their organizations, according to these respondents.

Other significant findings include recognizing barriers to deployment, preventing virus and worm threats, realizing benefits for improved care and identifying organizational challenges.

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