Cardiology IT adoption rates stall

June 2, 2005

The percentage of hospitals using cardiology software applications not only didn’t increase last year, it dropped from 29% in 2003 to 26% in 2004, according to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s Annual Report of the U.S. Hospital IT Market.

The percentage of hospitals using cardiology software applications not only didn't increase last year, it dropped from 29% in 2003 to 26% in 2004, according to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's Annual Report of the U.S. Hospital IT Market.

The May 18 report also found that fewer than half of the 3989 U.S. hospitals in its census use clinical cardiology, emergency department, intensive care, or obstetrical applications. It concluded that hospitals continue to starve information technology budgets, in effect ensuring that healthcare remains lagging behind other industries in IT expenditures.

Newer technologies such as wireless local area networks and PACS were among the few areas to advance significantly.

The primary reason for sputtering clinical application adoption rates is lean financial allocation. The average hospital IT budget as a percentage of annual hospital operating cost does not exceed 3% for any bed-size range, region (urban or rural), or function (academic, nonacademic, or general medical), the report said.

In contrast, the April 22 IT Governance Report found that hospitals with effective IT governance structures and industry-leading IT environments invest more than 3% of their annual operating budgets in IT.

"Future implementation growth will remain slow for most of these applications, as only 1% to 2% of hospitals that do not presently use this software have plans to purchase it in the foreseeable future," the report said.

According to the report, average IT budgets increase relative to bed size. The average IT budget for hospitals with 100 beds or less is 1.49% to 1.99%, whereas hospitals with 500 beds or more allocate 2.5% to 2.99%.

Urban hospitals ($3.4 million), non-general medical hospitals ($6.1 million), and academic teaching hospitals ($9.5 million) have the highest average IT budgets.

The report advised healthcare executives to support increased IT budgets and establish business unit accountability.

"Failure to move expeditiously will impact the viability of the organization going forward," the report said.

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