Confidence low that stimulus will drive health IT adoption

Survey respondents also say they aren't interested in health information exchanges.

By Pamela Lewis Dolan — Posted July 2, 2009

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More than half of health care workers, including physicians, interviewed for a recent survey say that the stimulus package will not help advance health information technology adoption.

The June report, published as a white paper by IVANS, a Stamford, Conn.-based network solutions provider, found that 52% of health care workers thought the stimulus package would have little or no success encouraging health IT adoption.

Meanwhile, the survey also found nearly 39% have plans to adopt an electronic medical records system within the next 12 months.

Clare DeNicola, president and CEO of IVANS, said that although finances are a major barrier -- 82.3% included budget in their top two challenges to health IT adoption -- the stimulus is not expected to be a driver for adoption, because it does little to address up-front costs.

The money allocated by the stimulus will be distributed by way of incentives for practices that already have a system up and running. The practices and health care facilities that have plans to adopt are doing so mostly because of quality and safety issues, DeNicola said.

The Web-based survey of more than 500 U.S health care workers on which the report was based was conducted in April. While participants included physician practices and hospitals, 58% of respondents were home health care workers and nursing homes.

But there were similarities in what each reported. For example, of the nursing homes and home health care respondents, 52% said the stimulus would do little or nothing to promote health IT adoption. And, 47% of respondents from private medical practices and hospitals said the same.

In addition, 83% of survey respondents said they have no plans to participate in a health information exchange, which could also explain their skepticism that the stimulus will be a driver, DeNicola said. To qualify for the incentive money, health IT users will have to meet "meaningful use" requirements that are bound to include participation in a health information exchange, she said.

"A lot of them are interested in implementing electronic health records, far less interested in the exchange of that information outside the four walls of the practice, whatever that practice may be," DeNicola said.

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