Healthcare organizations are unlikely to invest in creation of a national health information infrastructure until there is a better understanding of infrastructure plans and what sort of returns to expect, according to a new survey from the Health Information and Management Systems Society.
Chicago-based HIMSS released the results of its latest Vantage Point survey this week.
From a September poll of 196 healthcare information technology professionals, HIMSS finds that 34% say the most significant barrier to nationwide connectivity is lack of a defined return on potential investments. Another 18% say they do not want to spend money until there is a clear plan for building the proposed infrastructure.
More than one-fourth of respondents cite current interoperability problems: 12% have issues within their own healthcare systems and 14% are unwilling to exchange data with competitors, the survey says.
Furthermore, only 4% are participating in development of the National Health Information Infrastructure project--a nationwide network of interconnected healthcare IT systems championed by the Institute of Medicine and HHS--while 28% say they are aware of the project but not participating, according to HIMSS.
Another 35% say they have "limited awareness" of project details, while 33% are not familiar with the NHII effort at all, the survey says.
More optimistically for NHII prospects, close to three-fourths of respondents say their organizations use at least one national electronic standard for healthcare communication. About 65% use code sets from Health Level Seven, a standards-setting body that is attempting to reach consensus on standards for electronic medical records.
While the HIMSS survey indicates only 22% are using the Snomed standardized clinical terminology, that number is likely to go up. In July, the National Library of Medicine agreed to pay the American College of Pathologists $32.4 million over five years to make Snomed freely available nationwide, removing a major barrier to widespread sharing of clinical information.