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CIOs Set to Channel Future Spending Toward EHR Optimization

A recent KPMG survey of CIOs shows EHR optimization will remain a priority healthcare organizations over the coming years.

EHR optimization investment

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- The industry-wide push for EHR adoption led to hasty EHR implementations which in turn have healthcare CIOs focused on EHR optimization efforts.

According to a KPMG poll of more than a hundred College of Healthcare Information Management (CHIME) members, more than one-third (38%) ranked EHR optimization as a major area of capital investment over the next three years. Additionally, 36 percent of members see their budgets increasing over the next two years.

“Meaningful Use, HITECH and new payment models have encouraged healthcare providers to invest in EHRs, but some didn’t mesh with how doctors and nurses work,” said KPMG Advisory Managing Director Ralph Fargnoli, who authored the report. “A majority of doctors are dissatisfied with EHRs. We need to make these systems secure, easier to use, and interoperable across the continuum of care to effectively treat patients and uncover where quality and efficiency can be improved.”

CIOs report planning to spend the most capital on EHR optimization over any other area of healthcare spending. Money allotted toward EHR optimization will likely amount to twice as much as that designated for accountable care and population health technology.

KPMG conducted the survey of CHIME members last month. Researchers concluded CIOs predict the majority of spending over the next three years will go toward:

  • EHR system optimization (38 percent)
  • accountable care and population health technology (21 percent)
  • consumer and clinical operational analytics (16 percent)
  • virtual and telehealth technology advancements (13 percent)
  • revenue cycle systems and replacements (7 percent)
  • ERP systems and replacements (6 percent)

CIOs are funneling funds toward problem areas in healthcare technology. Since EHR optimization has proved occasionally exasperating for healthcare providers to master, it tops the list of priorities.

According to the report, improving clinical and business processes is a major concern for CIOs followed by improving operating efficiency and delivery business intelligence and analytics.

“More than 95 percent of hospitals have implemented electronic health records according to the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT,” it states. “The majority of these organizations, however, have not been able to optimize their EHR systems and experience the value that the technology is designed to bring healthcare.”

Despite the difficulties inherent to adopting EHR technology and using the technology to its fullest potential, 80 percent of respondents confirmed EHR systems are becoming increasingly strategically important to their organization.

KPMG also made suggestions for healthcare industry leaders on how they can optimize their EHR technology after implementation. The organization suggests healthcare providers assemble a team of technology professionals in addition to their existing team of clinicians and business leaders to assess how their EHR optimization strategy impacts the provider-patient relationship, where the organization envisions focusing their efforts, where revenue is coming from, how their strategy improves patient care, and whether they are examining readmissions and utilizations in their assessment.

In addition to creating a strategy for obtaining results, KPMG recommends healthcare providers determine how to most efficiently improve their existing EHR and keep a pulse of how the technology is operating and being used with frequent measurements and data reporting.

With these suggestions in mind and a significant portion of projected investments allotted toward EHR optimization, the coming year could be a turning point in the effort to surmount the obstacles standing in the way of truly successful EHR use.

The report also notes that CIOs are playing an increasing role in their organizational strategy (80%). However, half report lacking a “clear digital business vision and strategy although many are in the process of developing one (39%).

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