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Data-Driven Healthcare Comes with IT Hurdles

 |  By Michael Zeis  
   March 12, 2013

This article appears in the January/February 2013 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

In healthcare, the IT group is in a pivotal position to enable its organization's response to reform and other industry changes by putting in place an infrastructure that can guide administrative and clinical leaders alike to deliver better outcomes at reduced cost.

But the hurdles to be overcome in reaching those goals can be considerable. First, healthcare IT groups strain under near-term reporting burdens. Second, as the industry moves away from a fee-for-service revenue foundation to a value-based purchasing model, many healthcare IT groups may find that they have to respond to a slew of internal demands for reporting and analysis. The investments required are many, and the return on investment often is unclear. Finally, for a long time, the IT needs of the industry, especially on the clinical side of the house, have been met with highly targeted software applications. The consequence is that many organizations find they have to accommodate a variety of software packages and data structures, which presents vexing problems now that both business and clinical analytics depend on using an integrated set of data. 

Near-term reporting burdens
More than half of respondents (52%) say that meeting regulatory reporting requirements is among the top three drivers of their organization's IT efforts. Indeed, even now, the October 1, 2014, deadline for implementing the CMS ICD-10 code sets is demanding significant resources.

"Inside our IT shop right now, the anticipation of the workload associated with ICD-10 is overwhelming," says Donna Abney, executive vice president of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, a seven-hospital, not-for-profit healthcare delivery system with 1,709 licensed beds based in Memphis, Tenn.

ICD-10 tops the list of IT challenges for respondents, with nearly two-thirds (64%) of healthcare leaders saying that accommodating ICD-10 represents a major challenge. The second most frequently mentioned challenge was a tie, with 42% citing the requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act overall, and the same percentage identifying physician documentation as a top challenge.


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Michael Zeis is a research analyst for HealthLeaders Media.

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