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    March 20, 2018

    Hospitals Focus on Patient Safety, Security

    Results from the most recent HIMSS U.S. Leadership and Workforce Survey reveal a slight disconnect between hospitals and health information technology vendors.

    The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conducts the survey annually. The 2018 survey reflects the perspectives of the vendors and hospitals, and identifies what they believe are the top priorities for this year.

    Vendors aim to bring big data analytics, interoperability, and better health information technology to hospitals and health care systems. Of course, they might have a slightly biased opinion on why health information technology is so important.

    Based on results from the survey, the top five priorities for the vendor community are:

    • Data analytics and clinical business intelligence
    • Health information exchange, interoperability, and data integration
    • Improving quality outcomes through health IT
    • Privacy, security, and cybersecurity
    • Electronic health records

    But the hospitals they serve are much more focused on safety and security. Their priorities are more in line with the day-to-day operations of their business. Hospitals want to focus on patient safety, improving efficiencies, and keeping sensitive health data private and secure.

    Vendors ranked patient safety as 7th on their list of priorities from the HIMSS survey.

    Vendors and hospitals do agree on some aspects of running the business. Both stress the importance of population health management. And both want to optimize electronic health records. They understand that these efforts can promote better care for their patents. It can also reduce errors, prevent data breaches, and save on cost.

    Hospitals are also focusing on making improvements to their care coordination techniques. The goal is to reduce conditions like infections and complications caused by surgery and medical care while in the hospital.

    Another reason hospitals are less excited about health information technology is because of reduced budgets. 43% of hospitals anticipate a major decrease in health IT resources and projects.

    And while “improving quality through health IT” was a top priority for hospitals in 2017, they’ve ranked it as sixth on the list in 2018.

    "Part of the muted outlook for hospital representatives may be due to past challenges in completing information and technology projects as originally planned,” the report observes.

    "Given the variance in future projections, leaders from Vendor/Consultant organizations are encouraged to challenge their assumptions about the market’s willingness to acquire needed information and technology solutions so that they do not overextend their organizations and experience financial challenges,” HIMSS advises.

    While vendors and hospitals may not be on the same page with this year’s priorities, that gap may soon be bridged.

    "The evidence in this report...suggests hospitals employ a wide array of information and technology leaders, and that the influence of these individuals appears to be expanding,” says HIMSS.

    Chief Information Officers are going to be major assets in that role.

    HIMSS recommends that "vendors and consultants looking to extend their influence within hospital settings are therefore encouraged to be very purposeful in establishing and managing their relationships with an array of hospital information and technology executives.”

    Stronger relationships may help vendors and healthcare organizations align their views and priorities in the future.  

    Hospitals and healthcare organizations are expected to remain strong, and only implement health IT systems and software that help them progress towards their goals. Technology related to safety and security will likely continue to trend upward.