Looking Back at the 2013 HIMSS Leadership Survey Results—and Looking Forward

June 24, 2013
As I reported moments after its release on March 4 at HIMSS13, the 24th Annual HIMSS Leadership Survey offered results that strongly validate where the healthcare industry is right now in terms of moving forward towards what we at Healthcare Informatics are calling the new healthcare. It’s worthwhile to take a further look at some of the survey’s results, and their implications for the year ahead.

As I reported on March 4 from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, the HIMSS Leadership Survey, whose results came from 298 respondents representing nearly 600 hospitals and other patient care organizations:

> Sixty-six percent of respondents had already attested to meaningful use Stage 1 as fo December, and another 4 percent had indicated that they would do so by February of this year, with another 24 percent planning to do so sometime this year.

> Meanwhile, fully 75 percent of respondents said late last fall that they would attest to Stage 2 of MU during 2014.

> Fully 87 percent of respondents said their organization was prepared to meet the deadline for the transition to the ICD-10 coding system during 2014.

Other important findings from the Leadership Survey include the following:

> Survey respondents continue to identify healthcare reform as the top business issue that will have the most impact on healthcare in the next two years. The concept of healthcare reform, as offered in the survey, encompassed new care management and reimbursement models, including accountable care organizations.

> The other top business issues cited by survey respondents include the demand for capital, creating new revenue sources, and policy mandates that include ICD-10 and meaningful use.

> Importantly, for the second consecutive year, respondents cited the ability to hire the necessary staffing resources as the key barrier to being able to implement IT in their organizations today. The other top barriers? Lack of financial support, and vendors’ inability to effectively deliver products or services to respondents’ satisfaction.

Significantly, the top barriers cited in the 2013 survey were the exact same ones cited in the 2012 survey. What’s more, results of the 2013 survey point to the fact that the vast majority of healthcare IT leaders are already looking past meaningful use as a challenge, meaning that they are already actively working through the requirements under meaningful use, and are actively planning for what’s up ahead.

What does all this mean? My interpretation of these findings, others released in the survey, is that CIOs, CMIOs and other healthcare IT leaders are getting fairly clear on what’s ahead for their organizations and for the healthcare industry in general, and are working as hard and fast as they can to help lead their organizations towards the new healthcare; but that they continue to face the same old, “classic” problems: the inability to get the needed human resources to implement the IT their organizations need; lack of financial support from their organizations; and the inability of vendors to deliver the products and services they need.

In other words, the future is upon us, but the past and present—in the form of well-known obstacles—continues to put a drag on forward movement.

What is heartening to me is the overall consensus among those surveyed for the 2013 HIMSS Leadership Survey. When I compare healthcare IT leaders’ responses five years ago to those expressed in this year’s survey results, the contrast is striking. Even as recently as five years ago, the survey uncovered what I interpreted as widespread skepticism about the reality of our industry—the fundamental fact that the public and private purchasers and payers of healthcare have lost patience with business-as-usual healthcare costs and quality, and have finally put a huge, very heavy, collective foot down, and demanded that healthcare providers redo how they deliver care and under what assumptions they deliver it.

And of course, the new healthcare that is beginning to emerge really will require an exceptionally robust healthcare IT foundation, one whose outlines are becoming clearer and clearer over time.

We’ll be discussing all these issues in considerable detail and at a highly strategic level, as we meet next month in San Francisco for the Healthcare Informatics Executive Summit. With industry luminaries like Brent James, M.D. and Russ Branzell as keynote speakers, and leaders from such pioneering organizations as Allina Health, Brown & Toland Medical Group, Texas Health Resources, Park Nicollet Health Services, and Blue Shield of California, the presentations and panel discussions are all not-to-be-missed sessions. Please join us!
In the meantime, it will be fascinating to learn the results of the 2014 HIMSS Leadership Survey eleven months from now. Will healthcare IT leaders’ perspectives remain the same as they were a month ago, or will they have shifted? And what about the obstacles and barriers they’ll be facing over the next year? Stay tuned to find out!

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