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An increasing focus on Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) regulations and approaching compliance deadlines appears to have caused a shift in the information technology (IT) priorities anticipated by health care organizations, according to the 12th annual Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Leadership Survey.
Analysis of preliminary survey results finds that the No. 1 IT priority for providers — both for the next 12 months (61%, compared to 55% in 2000) and for the next two years (54%, vs. 51% last year) — is upgrading security on IT systems to meet HIPAA requirements. In addition, Internet technology, which was last year’s No. 1 IT priority, posted a decrease of 17%, cited by 46% of this year’s participants vs. 63% in 2000.
Questions in the 2001 survey covered topics such as IT priorities, overall IT utilization, IT budgets, computer-based patient records, data security, web applications, and emerging IT technologies. The preliminary results reflect initial analysis from providers only. The final results and full report, including vendor responses, should now be available on the HIMSS Web site. No significant statistical changes between the preliminary and final reports are anticipated for this year’s survey.
In terms of the "top business issues facing health care in the next two years," HIPAA compliance was cited by 79% of participating providers, compared to 70% last year. Cost pressures were the next-highest-ranked business issue this year, cited by 53% of respondents, vs. 55% in 2000. Improving operational efficiency, which was ranked No. 2 last year at 60%, dropped dramatically, down to 44% this year. Other top business issues for respondents included availability/ retention of staff (44%) and reducing medical errors (41%).
HIPAA also topped the list of providers’ security concerns. Complying with HIPAA security regulations regarding computerized medical information was cited by 74% of respondents, up slightly from 72% last year. The impact of HIPAA is also clearly demonstrated by this year’s preliminary results, which indicate an overall increase in both respondents’ knowledge of the requirements and the steps that have been taken toward compliance.
In other areas surveyed, respondents also indicated major percentage changes in the types of emerging technologies to watch. Wireless information appliances, web-enabled business transactions, hand-held personal digital assistants for workgroups, voice recognition, and extranet were cited by providers as the top technologies being considered for implementation over the next two years.
The survey represents the opinions of senior executives and managers from health care provider and vendor organizations from across the United States and around the world regarding the use of information technology. Fifty-three percent of provider organizations represented are multi-entity health care networks with hospitals. Another 22% are stand-alone hospitals. The remainder includes a wide variety of health care organizations, including long-term care, home health care, group medical practices, HMOs, and the military.
Seventy-six percent of provider respondents work for a hospital or an integrated health system. In terms of job responsibility, 76% of provider respondents are department management or staff within a single facility. Sixty-six percent of provider respondents hold the title of chief information officer, vice president of IT, or senior IT manager. The primary role of 66% of provider respondents encompasses IT management.
The survey was sponsored by Superior Consultant Co. in Southfield, MI, and Dell Computer Corp. in Austin, TX.