Healthcare vendors and consultants indicate systems integration is a top information technology (IT) priority for their clients now and over the next two years, according to results of the 14th Annual Healthcare and Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Leadership Survey, sponsored by Superior Consultant Company, Inc.

When asked what they believed to be the top IT priorities for their clients at this time, the four most frequently identified were integrating systems in a multi-vendor environment (53 percent), implementing technology to reduce medical errors/promote patient safety (46 percent), implementing privacy modifications to meet HIPAA requirements (41 percent), and upgrading security on IT systems to meet HIPAA requirements (39 percent). With the exception of implementing privacy modifications to meet HIPAA requirements – a category added to this year’s survey – these are the same top priorities cited by respondents in the 2002 survey. With deadlines for the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) quickly approaching, it is not surprising that respondents predicted that in the next two years HIPAA compliance will decline in importance for their clients, while systems integration (48 percent) – and patient safety/medical error reduction (42 percent) will remain top IT priorities.

The most frequently cited applications areas respondents considered most important for their healthcare clients over the next two years were enterprise-wide clinical information sharing (52 percent), computer-based patient record (51 percent), clinical information systems (49 percent), and computer-based practitioner order entry (47 percent). Compared with 2002 survey results, clinical information systems, financial/administrative information systems, and point-of-care clinical decision support were the areas that showed the most significant decline in importance, each dropping 15 percentage points.

Data security technologies and intranets – the top two ranked in 2002 – continue to top the list of technologies considered most important. The 2003 survey respondents most frequently cited data security technologies (49 percent), intranets (46 percent), extranets (42 percent), high-speed networks (41 percent) and Web-enabled business transactions (41 percent) as technologies they considered most important to their clients now. In the next two years, respondents predict that data security technologies (51 percent) and Web-enabled business transactions (45 percent) will remain among the technologies that are most important to their clients. The three technologies that show the largest increase in importance in the next two years, compared to now, are wireless information systems (40 to 55 percent), speech recognition (10 to 21 percent), and handheld personal digital assistants (27 to 37 percent).

Other survey results include:

  • Difficulty in proving quantifiable benefits/return on investment was cited as the most significant barrier to successfully implementing information technology at client facilities by nearly one-quarter of respondents.
  • Process/workflow design and systems integration were the two most frequently cited areas in which vendors believe healthcare organizations have staffing needs.
  • A majority of respondents expect their organization’s revenues to increase in the next 12 months due to outsourcing on the part of their clients.

For full results of this survey and the healthcare CIO version, visit www.himss.org.

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