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Boosting Quality Outcomes with EHRs, Health IT Remains Top Priority

A 2019 HIMSS survey shows improving quality outcomes with EHR systems and other health IT is top of mind for healthcare executives.

The 2019 HIMSS Leadership and Workforce survey highlights boosting quality outcomes with health IT as a top priority.

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- Improving quality outcomes using EHR systems and other health IT is a top priority among healthcare executives, according to the 2019 HIMSS Leadership and Workforce Survey.

In addition to boosting quality outcomes, achieving high levels of cybersecurity and privacy are also top of mind for leadership this year.

These findings are based on responses from 269 health IT leaders, including 232 healthcare provider organization executives and 37 leaders from health IT companies and health IT consulting organizations.

HIMSS collected responses between late November 2018 and early January 2019 to gain insight into the expectations and perspectives of healthcare executives. Respondents included healthcare leaders at hospitals and non-acute entities, including ambulatory clinics and long-term and post-acute care provider organizations.

As part of the survey, providers were asked to identify which IT issues would be top priority for their organization in the coming year. Meanwhile, vendors were asked to identify the health IT issues they expected would be most important to their clients.

Both vendors and providers identified cybersecurity and quality outcomes improvement as the most pressing objectives for the year ahead.

“The market congruency reflected in the dominance of these two issues is a positive development. With Vendors and Providers pulling in the same direction on key issues, market leaders should be empowered to leverage the synergies from the shared effort to encourage significant change in these topic areas,” noted HIMSS in the report.

Vendors and providers also ranked clinician engagement and clinical informatics as high priority issues in the year ahead. However, some discrepancies exist between vendor priorities and provider priorities.

Healthcare executives at provider organizations ranked user experience, usability, and user-centered design higher on their list of priorities than vendors, while vendors placed more value on health data exchange, interoperability, and data integration than providers did.

Projected priorities for 2019 also varied between hospitals and non-acute care providers. Most notably, hospitals are more focused on engaging community providers in the coming year than their non-acute counterparts.

“As hospital leaders increasingly look to influence the health of populations outside the walls of their buildings, they will need to work with community providers,” wrote HIMSS.

“That non-acute providers were less passionate about many of the community issues considered in this survey than their Hospital peers were, suggests Hospital leaders may be challenged in activating non-acute providers on select community initiatives,” authors continued.

More generally, hospitals appear to be better-positioned to leverage leadership to advance health IT initiatives.

Survey findings indicated over half of non-acute care provider organizations do not have an information and technology leader on staff, while about 90 percent of hospital respondents employed at least one IT executive.

“The lack of an executive leader to champion information and technology activities in non-acute provider organizations presents as a significant barrier to the advancement of information and technology capabilities in non-acute provider settings,” wrote HIMSS.

“Given the information and technology advances occurring in hospital settings, the absence of information and technology leaders in non-acute provider settings has the potential to widen the gap between these two provider environments,” the organization added.

Most IT leaders within hospitals are either chief information officers (CIOs) or senior clinical IT leaders, suggesting vendors looking to gain traction in the hospital market should focus their efforts on understanding the needs of these types of executives.

“While there are a wide array of hospital executives health information technology vendors/consultants could target, vendors et al. are best served by understanding and focusing their efforts on the executives common to most provider organizations,” stated HIMSS.

Overall, vendors and providers are aligned regarding expected health IT resource demands for 2019.

“While last year’s report suggested these two groups had divergent expectations, the findings this year suggests the two groups are fairly aligned,” noted HIMSS.



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