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Data-Driven Healthcare Comes with IT Hurdles

Michael Zeis, for HealthLeaders Media, March 12, 2013

Internal analysis and reporting demands
Of course, IT teams have to respond to much more than regulatory and other public reporting requirements. More than one-third of respondents (39%) note that IT support for care coordination is among their top strategic drivers of their organization's IT efforts; that figure is even higher (51%) among those from health systems. Similarly, nearly one-third (32%) indicate that clinical decision support is a key strategic driver.

The ability to focus on forward-thinking and complex IT development activities such as care coordination at the same time as responding to pressing regulatory reporting requirements suggests that there may be haves and have-nots when it comes to making IT investments.

Indranil "Neal" Ganguly, CHCIO, FHIMSS, FCHIME, vice president and chief information officer for CentraState Medical Center, a not-for-profit health organization with a 284-bed medical facility and 450 board-certified physicians in Freehold, N.J., sees the need to separate oneself from the needs of the moment, no matter how compelling they may be: "Those who are always asking themselves which fire to put out might have trouble looking to the future and doing some visionary planning."

Overall, 80% of healthcare leaders expect their IT budgets to increase in the next three years; that's not surprising considering the increasing reporting requirements and the system development activities needed to support the shift to value-based purchasing.

There are indications that health systems are more supportive of forward-focused applications than hospitals or physician organizations. Two-thirds of leaders from health systems (67%) place business intelligence and analytics among their principal areas of IT investment over the next three years, compared to 39% of respondents from hospitals and 44% of respondents from physician organizations.

Higher percentages of health systems than hospitals and physician organizations will be investing in clinical decision support and the integration of clinical and financial data.

The irony of extending IT into clinical areas over the past several years is that, once clinical users get such access, they like what they see and ask for more. So a by-product of success in clinical areas is an increase in user requests, which adds to the competition for resources. As Ganguly observes, "IT departments are spending a lot of time now churning through requests, some of which may not be as valuable to the organization. We have to put prioritization models in place and get a strong sense of governance about how we run this piece of the business, because we have limited resources."

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