Harsh economics dampen appetite for healthcare IT

April 8, 2009

The weakened U.S. economy is slowing the pace of growth in healthcare IT, according to a survey conducted by HIMSS. Only a little more than half (55%) of the 304 respondents participating the 20th annual HIMSS Leadership Survey said their IT budgets would increase, compared to 78% last year. This year about 42% said their staffing levels would increase, down from 68% last year.

The weakened U.S. economy is slowing the pace of growth in healthcare IT, according to a survey conducted by HIMSS. Only a little more than half (55%) of the 304 respondents participating in the 20th annual HIMSS Leadership Survey said their IT budgets would increase, compared to 78% last year. This year about  42% said their staffing levels would increase, down from 68% last year.

Survey respondents noted, however, that their organizations remain committed to healthcare IT. Implementing EMR systems is at the top of “to-do” lists held by IT professionals. About 31% said the primary focus would be ensuring their organization has a full EMR.  Another 17% indicated that their the primary focus would be to install a CPOE (computerized provider order entry).

HIMSS noted that many respondents completed the survey prior to the Feb. 17 signing of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), which is designed to encourage  the adoption of healthcare IT by providing financial incentives to use health information exchanges.

As in past years, security issues remain a big concern as 84% of respondents said their organization actively assesses security risks. One in four  said they have had a security breach in the past year.  To address the risks, 49% said they plan to purchase single sign-on technology in the next year.  Currently, 31% said they have single sign-on technology. A third or more respondents said they plan to purchase other security measures, such as e-mail encryption, biometric technologies, intrusion prevention/detection service, and data encryption. Currently, 62 % use e-mail encryption; 18% use biometric technologies; 75% use intrusion prevention/detection service; and 56% use data encryption.