By Erik L. Ridley, AuntMinnie staff writer

April 13, 2015 -- CHICAGO - Healthcare IT professionals are prioritizing IT activities geared toward patient engagement, according to the 26th annual HIMSS Leadership Survey released on Monday at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual meeting.

Among the IT professionals surveyed, 72% reported that patient engagement, patient satisfaction, and quality of care would have the biggest effect on their organization over the next two years, said Jennifer Horowitz, senior director of research for HIMSS Analytics.

Jennifer Horowitz
Jennifer Horowitz of HIMSS Analytics

In other key findings, there was widespread hospital board and executive support for IT: 72% of boards and 79% of executive teams were highly supportive of IT, according to the survey. Health IT professional staffing and budgeting are also expected to increase in the next year.

HIMSS received 330 responses from its Web-based survey in January and February 2015 of IT professionals such as chief information officers (CIOs), director-level IT professionals, managers, and staff. This year's survey also featured a number of methodology changes and several new questions, Horowitz said.

Issues related to patient care are increasingly taking center stage, according to the survey respondents. The following business issues were reported as having a high impact on care delivery:

  • Consumer/patient considerations: 72%
  • Concerns related to privacy/security: 71%
  • Changing payment/insurance models: 71%
  • Policy mandates: 71%
  • Ability to share patient information: 70%
  • Financial considerations: 69%
  • Shifting healthcare landscape: 67%
  • Staffing issues: 52%
  • Hospital infrastructure needs: 47%
  • Supply chain optimization: 25%

"There are so many issues that are getting at least two-thirds of the respondents to say that they are a high priority," she said. "When I looked at the data initially, this really illustrated [to me] how many different things healthcare organizations are grappling with at the same time."

The top 10 key business objectives for institutions were as follows:

  • Improve patient satisfaction: 87%
  • Improve patient care/quality of care: 87%
  • Sustain financial viability: 85%
  • Improve care coordination: 76%
  • Improve operational efficiency: 72%
  • Improve physician satisfaction: 69%
  • Achieve meaningful use: 68%
  • Increase market share: 66%
  • Achieve secure interoperability of data: 64%
  • Facilitate mandated quality metrics improvement: 64%

The survey also asked respondents how IT was affecting the Triple Aim goals developed by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). Sixty-eight percent indicated that IT improved the patient health experience, 58% said IT reduced the cost of healthcare, and 51% said IT improved population health.

"We're seeing the needle moving in a really positive direction here," she said.

The respondents also reported on IT's ability to help their organizations achieve success:

  • Care coordination: 74%
  • Mandated quality metrics improvement: 73%
  • Primary care provider efficiency: 69%
  • Patient experience management: 58%
  • Postacute care management: 58%
  • Patient retention/acquisition: 51%
  • Supply chain optimization: 29%

While the importance of patient engagement and quality of care were common themes among respondent answers, the survey also included a specific question about how institutions were using IT to engage patients, Horowitz said. Patient portals and organizational websites were the most popular of these activities:

  • Provide patient portal: 87%
  • Use organizational website: 82%
  • Leverage social media: 57%
  • Patient concierge service: 26%
  • Provide apps to measure vitals: 19%
  • Gaming models: 7%
  • None of the above: 3%
  • Other: 2%
  • Don't know: 1%

The researchers also found broad support for IT from boards of directors (72%). Nearly half of respondents indicated there would be an increase in organizational IT staffing over the next year, while 35% reported there would be no change. Eleven percent said there would be a decrease in organizational IT staffing, and 5% didn't know if there would be a change in staffing levels.

With regards to the IT operating budget at their institution, 62% reported there would be an increase over the next year, while 21% said there would be no change and 11% said there would be a decrease. Six percent did not know if there would be a change in the IT operating budget.

The respondents' organizations offered mobile health services as follows:

  • Telemedicine: 49%
  • Enterprise population health management: 38%
  • Remote coaching/education: 29%
  • None of the above: 23%
  • Real-time patient monitoring: 21%
  • Don't know: 6%

The survey respondents also indicated the following regarding IT and medical staff:

  • IT effectively engages physician leaders: 51%
  • Chief medical informatics officer is part of executive team: 39%
  • Medical staff believes IT is critical to its success: 37%
  • Medical staff believes IT can positively affect patient care: 35%
  • Medical staff has favorable attitude toward IT: 29%

Copyright © 2015 AuntMinnie.com
 

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