Hospitals struggle to meet meaningful use

July 2, 2010

NEW YORK, June 29, 2010 –A year and a half after the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allocated billions of dollars to help hospitals and doctors purchase equipment to computerize patient medical records, even the most sophisticated hospitals in the country are struggling to qualify for the payments. Eight in 10 hospital chief information officers (CIOs) surveyed by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP said they are concerned or very concerned they will not be able to demonstrate “meaningful use” of electronic health records (EHR) within the federally established deadline of 2015, according to a report entitled Ready or not: On the road to the meaningful use of EHRs and health IT, published today by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute (HRI).

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ survey of 120 hospital CIOs who are members of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) found:

  • Only half of the hospitals and health system CIOs surveyed say they will be prepared to meet the first set of meaningful use requirements and apply for incentive bonuses in 2011, the first year they are available.
  • CIOs interviewed for the report said they also were concerned about meeting later-stage requirements within the specified time frames. These requirements include (1) advancing care processes through decision support; (2) providing and populating patients’ personal health records; and (3) improving health outcomes through data-sharing outside their own organizations, such as with insurers, patients and other providers.

The promise of stimulus funding has accelerated EHR adoption and the collection of massive amounts of electronic health data as hospitals and physicians across the country race to meet eligibility requirements. But the existing infrastructure to support meaningful use of EHRs on a national health information superhighway is insufficient, according to the CIOs interviewed by PricewaterhouseCoopers.