Survey says security and patient safety top concerns

February 23, 2004

Over 300 of the country's healthcare executives said that increasing patient safety through the use of electronic medical records and improving system security were their most pressing concerns regarding healthcare IT. More than 700 hospitals

Over 300 of the country's healthcare executives said that increasing patient safety through the use of electronic medical records and improving system security were their most pressing concerns regarding healthcare IT. More than 700 hospitals participated in the 15th Annual HIMSS Leadership Survey, results of which were released Sunday at the 2004 Annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Conference & Exhibition in Orlando.

"With increasingly widespread implementation of various IT healthcare tools, we are moving closer and closer to a world of safer, more efficient medicine," said Dave Garets, chair of the HIMSS board of directors and executive vice president at Healthlink in Houston.

The survey also revealed security to be a top priority. Among the findings:
? Increasing patient safety and reducing medical errors was most frequently cited by survey respondents as one of the top business issues that would affect healthcare in the next two years. While HIPAA compliance still tops the list of current IT priorities, its importance is expected to diminish considerably in the next two years as deadlines for compliance pass.
? Most respondents (65%) reported internal breaches to be their primary security concern - a 10% increase over last year.
? Nearly 70% are using at least six security tools, including computer firewalls, user access controls, multilevel pass codes, and data encryption.
? Over three-quarters of respondents (79%) claim to be already implementing or planning on implementing an EMR system.
? Use of single sign-on is expected to increase in the next two years, from a present reported implementation level of 16% to a projected usage of more than 70%.

In the next two years, 65% of respondents who do not currently offer patient scheduling on their Web sites plan to do so. Nearly 55% say their organizations are using or will use PDAs to record and access patient information during checkups, 54% plan to implement a medication bar-coding system, and 53% plan to begin using speech-recognition systems.

Over 90% of respondents were chief information officers or directors of information systems, more than half work at multi-hospital systems, 86% work for an organization headed by a hospital, and 10% were from government facilities.

The majority of facilities (82%) were not-for-profit.