par Sean Ruck
, Contributing Editor | February 21, 2012
From the January/February issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
Today, as we look at our EMR adoption model we see hospitals that scored at a stage 4 level or above. It’s a level of IT adoption that somewhat equates to meaningful use – if you’re at a stage 4 you probably have the tools needed to qualify. Now, there are many details and specific requirements of usage that qualify, but five years ago, less than five percent of hospitals were at that level. Now, it’s about 30 percent at that level. About 46 percent are at stage 3 – so they’re moving up to be on the verge of going into that level of IT adoption where they’ll meet the needs of meaningful use.
We have to recognize some people are saying that 55 percent registered seems like a low number, but you have to understand where they came from. If we were in a technologically advanced sector like finance for example, that should raise a lot of questions. But health care wasn’t at that level of technology and until the regulations and requirements were issued a little over a year ago, nobody knew what it took to qualify for meaningful use. In recognizing that for a couple of years, people were aiming at a target that wasn’t defined and once it was, the strides made since, I think it’s a very reasonable performance report.
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Are facilities scrambling to get the technology updated?
They’re working on it. There is a couple of years’ window at the beginning for hospitals to qualify and receive the full funding and we’re not at the end of that window so nobody is losing anything by not having met the requirements yet. So, just like ICD-10 it’s a process that takes time – you don’t call up GeekSquad, have them load it and be off and running. It’s a long effort to get to the point of qualifying for Stage 1 meaningful use. I think what you’ll see a year, year and a half from now is a leveling off and people at that point working toward avoiding the penalty phase in 2015 rather than scrambling for incentives which start to decrease. As I said though, we see it is good progress now.
Are all these upcoming IT issues increasing the recognition of HIMSS?
Absolutely. If you look at metrics – whether attendance at the conference or other programs, or page views on the web site we’re at a time when there’s a tremendous amount of focus on informatics. So as a result, recognition has grown not only in the U.S. but worldwide – we’ve been in Europe, Asia and the Middle East for at least seven years.
What type of advice do you offer to those contacting the society about choosing a management system?
To be sure the system they have in place or will have in place will address their perceived future needs. So there isn’t any one answer for anyone and different products have different strengths for one type of organization versus another — an academic center will have very different technology needs than a very small, rural, critical access hospital would.