Hospitals, Clinical Staff Getting Psyched On HIT Use

Posted on March 9, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Well, it’s always nice to know that caregivers are warming up on health IT use. According to a new survey by CDW Healthcare, which polled 200 IT professionals and more than 200 clinicians at larger hospitals, 84 percent feel patient care is improved by use of these technologies.

Now, bear in mind that CDW Healthcare does indeed sell health IT to industry, so the happiness and light claims should be taken with a grain of salt.  Still, the company does share some interesting observations as to how healthcare IT leaders are planning for the future, as well as what clinicians like best in HIT.

To lead off with an interesting stat, the study’s responding caregivers said that systems installed within the last 18 months are more useful  in patient care and deliver the information they need.

CDW says that this last factoid means that users see health IT tools as getting better. It could just as easily mean that clinicians are breaking in new systems and getting used to them more quickly. Either way, it suggests more hospitals enjoying more IT-friendly clinical support.

According to CDW, doctors and nurses had three favorite benefits from HIT:

* Availability of better clinical data (85%)

* Accuracy of care delivered (72%)

*  Ability to track follow-up care (68%)

That being said, CDW (not surprisingly) urges hospital CIOs to keep on spending. Specifically, the company warns that infrastructure investment has been uneven of late, with only 4 percent of hospitals deploying an EHR in the last 18 months adding no additional storage capacity. (Urk. That sounds unwise — what do you think?)

Another possible problem area is IT security; 11 percent of hospitals hadn’t added to their security infrastructure in the last 18 months.  Now,  as we all know, it takes more than infrastructure to build a smart security strategy, but underspending on hardware may be a problem.

Now, here’s the question that I see floating over all of this:  did the hospitals train the clinicians, or did the clinicians come to the party already excited about IT? I think the answer to that may tell us a lot about how to achieve the kind of results CDW is bragging about.