Meaningful Use a Top Priority for Healthcare Providers; HIMSS Survey Finds

A recent survey of health IT leaders at the HIMSS 2012 conference found that achieving Meaningful Use for EHR setups is the top priority when it comes to employing new information technology systems in the sector, Healthcare Informatics reported.

While the largest percentage of respondents cited achieving meaningful use as their top priority, the number of organizations striving for this goal declined slightly from last year. Approximately 38 percent of those polled said they consider meaningful use as their primary focus for health IT innovation. Last year, more than half of survey participants named meaningful use their most important focus. However, the news source said this could be indicative that more organizations have made major progress toward meaningful use and are moving on to other areas.

Focusing on clinical systems was revealed as the No. 2 priority among medical providers, with 15 percent of respondents identifying this area as their chief focus. Furthermore, 13 percent of respondents pointed to either data warehousing, clinical decision support and evidence-based medicine as their primary areas of emphasis.

The survey also revealed that financial issues are not holding back the sector. The study found that for the first time in years, money is not considered the main barrier to healthcare IT adoption. This indicates that federal grants may be helping fuel innovation and at least validates that many healthcare providers are dedicating enough resources to support technological growth.

Instead of financial limitation, the study found that staffing resources are now the greatest barrier to innovation in the sector. Approximately 22 percent of respondents explained that finding staff with the right training to implement IT systems is the greatest challenge they face. Financial barriers came in second, with 14 percent of respondents saying a lack of resources is limiting technological growth.

As more healthcare providers advance their EHR systems and other IT investments, it is essential that they find ways to integrate their healthcare systems to enable data sharing and similar advanced capabilities. As physicians depend more heavily on EHRs, automatically updating data between systems is essential to limiting errors and ensuring doctors can always get access to the information they need.

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