Hospitals spend a median of 2% to 2.49% of their operating budgets on information technology, regardless of their status as teaching or nonteaching, urban or rural, independently operated or part of a system, according to HIMSS Analytics, a subsidiary of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. Average IT spending tends to be greater at teaching and larger hospitals but not so much that they exceed the median range, the company said. While nearly all hospitals use IT to handle registration, billing and claims submission, 72% use electronic scheduling systems and 33% check insurance eligibility electronically. Picture archiving computer systems were common at hospitals with 500 or more beds, with 82% saying they had installed or contracted for such systems, compared with about 26% of hospitals with fewer than 100 beds. Some 6.3% of the hospitals with 500 or more beds used a complete set of eight clinical systems -- PACS, bedside terminals, electronic medical records, laboratory, medication administration, pharmacy, order entry and radiology -- compared with 2% of hospitals with fewer than 100 beds. Order the report.
Meanwhile, a survey for the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that more consumers are turning to the Internet as a source of health information. Some 66% of 537 adult Internet users interviewed in November 2004 said they had used the Internet to learn about a disease or medical condition, up from 63% in December 2002. Read the report. -- by Joseph Conn