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CHIME: CIOs Cautiously Optimistic about EHR Incentives

September 10, 2010

College of Health Information Management Executives’ (CHIME) members who responded to an August survey appear cautiously optimistic about their chances for achieving stimulus funding under the HITECH portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Of the 152 member CIOs who responded, 28 percent said they expect to qualify for stimulus funding in the first six months of fiscal year 2011, which begins on October 1, 2010. An additional 62 percent reported they expect to qualify between April 1, 2011, and September 30, 2012, which marks the end of Stage 1 of the incentive program.

Only 10 percent believe they will not qualify for stimulus funds until fiscal years 2013 or 2014.

CHIME members who are versed in the intricacies of the evolving federal program to incentivize the installation of electronic health records (EHRs) caution that much remains unknown about how the federal program will operate. Even though CHIME timed the survey to occur a few weeks after the July 13 release of the final regulations covering meaningful use objectives, IT executives are still finding out about the nuances of the program, and many details remain unknown.

“CIOs are still early in the discovery process. We don’t yet have a complete understanding of the certification process and its impact on providers,” said Pam McNutt, senior vice president and CIO of Methodist Health System in Dallas, and chair of CHIME’s Policy Steering Committee. “The reality of what it will take to qualify for stimulus funding won’t be fully known until our vendors have obtained certification.”

Pam McNutt

CHIME’s membership comprises more than 1,400 health care CIOs and other senior health  IT executives from a variety of provider organizations, including large hospital systems, community hospitals, for-profit hospitals and small or rural facilities.

Expectations vary depending on the type of health care organization and its size. For example, 38 percent of CIO respondents from academic medical centers expect to qualify for stimulus funding within the first six months, compared with only 22 percent of CIOs at community hospitals. In general, executives of larger organizations say they are more likely to qualify for funding within six months, compared with responses from smaller facilities.

While respondents predict a high level of success in qualifying for stimulus funding, only two-thirds of respondents from hospitals with 100 to 199 beds say they will get funding within the first two fiscal years that the Stage 1 criteria are in effect. By contrast, nearly all respondents from facilities with 600 to 999 beds expect to qualify for stimulus funding within the first two years of the program.

The objective specifying the use of computerized provider order entry (CPOE) by provider organizations was the second most frequently mentioned concern. Also ranking high as a concern is capturing and submitting data on quality measures. Fewer than 10 percent of respondents said they had no concerns about their ability to achieve stimulus fund payments.

Other findings include:

  • Relaxed standards for qualifying for stimulus funding will have little to no impact on improving providers’ chances, according to 75 percent of the respondents.
  • While about 40 percent of respondents say they are well-positioned to achieve meaningful use with their current IT strategy and existing applications, slightly more than half say they are accelerating their plans to implement EHRs or otherwise re-evaluating current HIT applications to obtain funding.

A full report of the survey may be accessed below:

http://www.cio-chime.org/advocacy/CHIMEMUSurveyReport.pdf

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