For example, half of the hospitals were characterized as “high” users of health IT, defined in the survey as facilities that use at least 13 of the 16 most common types of systems. The number of hospitals considered high users rose by 25% between 2007 and 2008, the most recent year for which data were available. Fully 92% had instituted a laboratory information system, and 82% had a master person index that is used to track all patient records.
On average, the Wisconsin hospitals were spending $8,652 per bed in capital costs for health IT, and $21,221 on operational costs—figures that varied little between the various types and sizes of acute-care hospitals in the state. Those figures compared with $5,556 and $12,060 per-bed costs for capital and operational health IT expenses respectively for hospitals across the country, as reported in a 2006 study by the American Hospital Association.
On average, Wisconsin hospitals spent about 4% of their net patient revenue on health IT systems. Despite the uniformity in spending, the survey found disparities in implementation. Hospitals affiliated with integrated systems were far more likely to have a high level of health IT use, with 42% considered high users. In contrast only 17% of independent, stand-alone hospitals were high health IT users.
The study also found variation in implementation of an electronic health record, which was defined as a set of seven of the 16 most common types of health information systems. Of the group of hospitals that had full EHRs, 74% of those were in urban and suburban areas, while 26% were critical-access facilities. However, slightly more than half of the hospitals with “partially implemented” EHRs were rural.
Overall, only 27% of all hospitals in the state had implemented an EHR as defined by the study. The seven systems in the EHR were: a master person index, a laboratory information system, a pharmacy system, a medication administration record, a radiology information system, a computerized physician order-entry system and inpatient charting.
Organizers said the purpose of the study was to help policymakers understand the financial resources required for health IT adoption, as well as to push for “data-driven incentive funding” at the state and federal level to implement the systems, a news release from the association said.
All 125 hospitals surveyed for the study responded to requests for information from the state hospital association. About 45% of the hospitals are critical-access facilities.
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