Eight in 10 hospital CIOs say they are concerned or very concerned about meeting guidelines for the "meaningful use" of electronic health records, according to a survey released Tuesday by PricewaterhouseCoopers' Health Research Institute, Healthcare IT News reports.
Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of EHRs will qualify for incentive payments through Medicare and Medicaid.
For the study, researchers surveyed 120 hospital CIOs and conducted in-depth interviews with 14 leaders of health systems, health information exchanges, insurers and regional extension centers.
The survey found that:
- 63% of CIOs said their organizations already are collaborating with physicians around the meaningful use guidelines or will begin collaboration within the next six months;
- About half of CIOs said they will be ready to apply for the first round of meaningful use incentive payments in 2011; and
- Many CIOs are concerned about meeting later-stage meaningful use requirements, such as providing patients with personal health records.
According to the surveyed CIOs, some of the barriers that could hinder compliance with the meaningful use requirements include:
- Lack of clarity about the final meaningful use rules, which have yet to be released;
- Shortage of staff with the necessary skills to integrate health IT into clinical, operational and administrative practices;
- Possible shortfalls in vendor readiness for the meaningful use requirements; and
- Potential lack of sufficient hospital infrastructure to support health IT systems.
In addition, the survey identified trends among hospitals and health systems that have made significant progress toward meeting the meaningful use criteria. The survey found that:
- Health systems that connect with patients, physicians and insurers around the meaningful use guidelines are more likely be ready to apply for incentives in 2011; and
- Health systems that include patients in EHR implementation planning are more confident about meeting meaningful use requirements (Monegain, Healthcare IT News, 6/29).