In what is something of a tradition, companies used the HIMSS conference to make big business announcements.
GE Healthcare announced that it has a name for its long-awaited software product born of its five-year collaboration with Intermountain Healthcare, Salt Lake City and a two-year development relationship with the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
The system will be called Qualibria; it's what GE describes in a news release as a “clinical knowledge platform” that will bring together real-time data from clinician IT systems and compare them with “baselines of evidence-based best practices.”
The company also announced that Mayo has expanded its collaboration with GE and will contribute further to the development of clinical content best practices, including treatment protocols that will be made available to other Qualibria customers, according to the release.
Meanwhile, IBM announced it completed its acquisition of Initiate Systems, a Chicago-based provider of probabilistic matching software systems, a key technology in the identification of medical records in information exchange. IBM had announced last month it intended to acquire Initiate, which in 2006 received venture-capital funding from In-Q-Tel, a venture capital firm founded by the CIA to invest in promising technologies of use to the spy service.
And Cleveland-based Hyland Software, a maker of enterprise content-management software, announced that it had acquired eWebHealth, a Reading, Mass., company that hosts medical-record workflow solutions.
In July of last year, Hyland bought Valco Data Systems, which provides document management and imaging, workflow and health information management services for hospitals, regional health information organizations and integrated delivery networks. With this purchase, according to a Hyland news release, the company's customer base now includes more than 1,000 healthcare organizations.
Another HIMSS tradition is the releasing of various IT surveys and reports to serve as discussion points for the conference.
Among the most notable of these was Surescripts' report Advancing Healthcare in America: 2009 National Progress Report on E-Prescribing, Plus What's Ahead for 2010 and Beyond, which reported that the number of prescriptions routed electronically tripled last year.
According to the report, Surescripts tallied 191 million electronic prescriptions in 2009 compared with 68 million in 2008. Meanwhile, the number of e-prescriptions jumped to 18% of total prescriptions written in the U.S. from 6.6% over the same period.
The report also stated that the number of providers using e-prescribing more than doubled to 156,000 from 74,000. In contrast to that report, a survey by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives indicated a less-than-ringing endorsement of federal IT initiatives.
The survey, which included responses from 238 of the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based organization's more than 1,400 CIO members, mostly dealt with complying with the government's meaningful-use requirements for obtaining federal subsidies for IT projects.
CHIME members were queried on their opinion of the value of the government's three top IT interventions: grants, IT workforce training and IT extension center funding. Although about 36% of the respondent CIOs said the three interventions would be helpful to their organizations. Nearly as many, 31%, said none of the programs would be of any assistance.
HIMSS released its own survey of 398 healthcare executives said to represent 270 healthcare organizations representing nearly 700 U.S. hospitals. In this survey, 59% of respondents said they planned on positioning themselves to qualify for meaningful-use subsidies. Also, 72% said they expect their IT operating budgets to increase, with 49% of those saying that the federal stimulus law “would be a driver” of that increase.
In the Modern Healthcare/Modern Physician 20th annual Survey of Executive Opinions on Key Information Technology Issues, some 67% said meeting the meaningful-use criteria to qualify for stimulus law subsidies was a top priority for the next 24 months.
The next highest priority, was improving patient care, clinical quality and patient safety, which 42% cited as a top priority.
Though not part of an official survey, Kent Gale, founder and chairman of the Orem, Utah-based KLAS Enterprises market-research firm—which conducts some 2,000 interviews of healthcare providers a month—said adoption of computerized order entry remains low.
Computerized physician order entry, a health IT application being heavily promoted in the proposed meaningful-use rules, has about a 12% adoption rate, as of early January, according to KLAS research. Gale added that only 4% of hospitals have CPOE utilization that can be classified as “deep,” while 8% of hospitals reported “shallow” adoption.
--Joseph Conn, Gregg Blesch, David Burda and Nicole Voges contributed to this report.
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