A survey by the American Hospital Association confirmed what most healthcare executives already knewadopting health information technology is expensivein many cases too costly for some hospitals. However, the same survey showed Pennsylvania hospitals are outpacing their counterparts across the country in many health IT categories.
The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania used the 2006 AHA survey measuring health IT use and barriers to entry to create its report, Improving Patient Care: Pennsylvania Hospitals' Use of Information Technology, showing its hospitals are in the lead. The survey found that Pennsylvania hospitals use IT functions at a rate of 63% vs. the national average of 46%.
In addition, 11% have fully implemented an electronic health record while 71% have partially implemented them, according to the report. Across the country, 11% of hospitals have fully implemented EHRs, and 51% have partially implemented them. Hospitals in Pennsylvania also used computerized physician order entry at a higher level83% vs. 72% (laboratory); 81% vs. 70% (radiology); and 70% vs. 61% (pharmacy).
Martin Ciccocioppo, vice president of research for the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, said that he was pleased with the survey results because they will help to encourage hospitals to adopt more IT. In addition, the survey could shed light on the needs of hospitals in the government's eye.
"This will show policymakers what hospitals are doing on their own and highlight there is more to be done," he said.
Despite the use of health IT, the lack of uniform standards across systems makes technology implementation and investments difficult, the report stated. The Pennsylvania association would like to see increased participation in its eHealth initiative to exchange information among providers, insurers, businesses and government through standard-based health information systems in hopes that such a communication system would encourage the use of EHRs and improved access for patients to their personal data.
And with cost as the largest barrier to entry, more government grants and loans should be created to jump-start hospitals that can't afford to implement IT systems on their own, Ciccocioppo said. The survey showed that Pennsylvania hospitals finance IT primarily through their capital budgets, but they would use grants and loans if they were available. "Hospitals would be eager to use them," he said.
A bill currently in the Pennsylvania House would create the Medical Safety Automation Fund and make matching health IT grants available to hospitals.
What do you think? Write us with your comments at [email protected]. Please include your name, title and hometown.