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Health providers can't find, keep IT staff

Lucas Mearian | March 5, 2013
Many hospitals don't expect any immediate ROI on their investments in electronic health systems.

"We've learned a lot over the last five years about how to deploy technology initiatives. We've found that you can't just give them technology and expect them to be successful," Rozmus said. "We know we have to provide at-the-elbow support so that the frustration level of the clinicians is taken out at the early stages. We're really investing more in that than ever before."

Many HIMSS survey respondents don't expect a return on investments made to deploy EHRs that will allow them to aggregate patient data and streamline workflow.

For example, EHRs in the largest hospital systems can cost more than $10 million dollars to implement and 30% of respondents expect the ROI to be less than $2 million. Twenty-three percent expect a $2 million to $3 million return, 16% see a return of between $4 and $5 million, 3% expect an ROI of $6 million to $7 million. Only 7% of respondents expect a return of $10 million or more.

By contrast, the level of investment made for stage one of meaningful use ranged from under $250,000 for 14% of those surveyed to $10 million to $19 million for 6% of respondents. The greatest number of IT executives - 17% -- said their companies have to spend $1 million to $2 million to achieve stage one of meaningful use while 11% expect to spend $3 million to $4 million.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has to date dispensed more than $7.7B in reimbursement payments to more than 307,000 healthcare professionals and 4,000 hospitals deploying EHRs under government guidelines.

The federal government requires that healthcare facilities eventually achieve three stages of meaningful use of EHRs over the next five years.

To date, Stages 1 and 2 of the meaningful use criteria have been defined by the U.S. Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT (ONC), meaning health care providers can be certified for compliance.

The total cost for the EMR incentive program is expected to hit $22.5 billion over the next decade, according to the latest estimate of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.

Physicians and other qualified healthcare workers can receive up to $44,000 apiece in incentive payments while hospitals are eligible for base payments of $2 million a year.

Over the past few years, the focus for spending on health care IT has also shifted from deploying EHRs to implementing the World Health organization's ICD-10 classification system.

The move from ICD-9 to ICD-10 calls for replacing about 15,000 codes with approximately 68,000 new ones. It comes at a time when care providers are already under the gun with regulatory and mobile initiatives.


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