Feb 22, 2011 (09:02 AM EST)
Health IT Execs To Boost Spending In 2011

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17 Leading EHR Vendors
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Hospital IT managers credit the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 as the driving force behind their current healthcare IT investments, according to a study released Monday by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) to coincide with its annual conference in Orlando, Fla.

The report is one of the clearest indications yet that the Obama administration's stimulus spending, which established the Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record (EHR) incentive programs to help providers adopt and achieve meaningful use of EHRs, has spurred hospital spending on health IT modernization -- a measure that will transform and improve the quality of patient care for decades to come.

According to the findings of the 22nd annual HIMSS leadership survey, which interviewed 326 IT executives representing nearly 700 hospitals, 68% of respondents indicated that they were going to make additional investments to position their organization to qualify for incentives as a result of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, enacted as part of the ARRA. This represents an increase from the 59% of respondents who reported this was the case in the 2010 study.

Half of the respondents noted that achieving meaningful use would be their top IT priority over the next two years; 42% said they planned to spend at least $1 million to achieve Stage 1 meaningful use requirements; and 81% said they expected their organizations to qualify for Stage 1 by 2011 or 2012.

"The ARRA clearly remains the top force in healthcare IT, and likely will for some time," C. Martin Harris, HIMSS board chair, and chief information officer at the Cleveland Clinic, said in a statement.

When asked to identify the level of investment that they made to achieve Stage 1 of meaningful use, 23% said they invested between $1 million and $5 million and 19% invested $5 million or more. Slightly more than one quarter of respondents (27%) spent less than $1 million while 8% of respondents indicated that their organization made no additional investment to achieve Stage 1 of meaningful use. The remaining respondents either did not know the answer to this question or refrained from disclosing the investment made at their organization.