Electronic health records now a top priority for many hospitals

Electronic health records are more of a priority, but security still lags behind.
Written by Denise Amrich, Contributor

HIMSS12, this year's HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) annual conference and exhibition is in full swing in exciting Las Vegas, with attendees from all walks of the medical profession hitting the show floor at the Sands Expo and Convention Center, or attending their pick of the over 300 educational sessions.

One of the interesting pieces of news that's already come out of the event is from a survey presented early on. The survey reveals that a quarter of the 302 hospital IT executives who responded to the survey have already proven that they've met meaningful use standards.

Meaningful use is part of the HITECH Act (which stands for Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health). In order to qualify for incentive payments through Medicare and Medicaid, clinicians and hospitals have to use EHRs (electronic health records) in meaningful ways that result in improved quality of patient care.

For another third of the survey respondents, meeting meaningful use requirements is their top priority over the next two years. Implementing the ICD-10 coding system is the single most important financial element of the process, because there are over five times as many diagnostic codes as there were in the ICD-9 system.

Other survey findings included the following:

  • Clinicians are actively participating in the use of IT, and in decision making about what programs to use.
  • A quarter of the survey respondents have experienced a security breach in the past year, but only 1% place securing patient information as a top priority.
  • Lack of adequate staffing has replaced lack of financial support for IT as a top barrier to adoption.

It's a great thing to hear that the number of hospitals using electronic health records has more than doubled since last year, but a little troubling that more attention isn't being paid to security.

Tomorrow they're supposed to announce the new criteria for the Stage II standards of meaningful use, so everyone's looking forward to finding out how meaningful it's really going to get. Stay tuned.

See also: Electronic prescription: meaningful use not meaningful enough?

Are you one of the 31,000 attendees at the HIMSS event? Excited about the survey findings? Let us know in the TalkBacks below.

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