Medical Device Daily Washington Editor

A recently released study from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA; Chicago) reports that nearly 70% of respondents said they had “medium- to high-level personal readiness“ to participate in an electronic information management environment.

According to the study, though facilities are proceeding with electronic health record (EHR) plans at various speeds, health information management (HIM) professionals are preparing early.

The project surveyed professionals attending last October's AHIMA national convention and exhibit in Washington. It was conducted by AHIMA and Healthcare Informatics magazine and sponsored by healthcare information company McKesson (San Francisco) and information technology developer EMC (Hopkinton, Massachusetts).

The survey was designed to determine the level of readiness of the industry to EHRs and similar technology and to gauge the extent of EHR implementation in their organizations.

Results of the survey found that at least 42% of respondents' facilities have partial or extensive implementation of an EHR system. It also identified the steps to building an effective EHR.

The top three steps are implementation of clinical support systems, the provision of clinical documentation and creation of a clinical data repository.

Linda Kloss, AHIMA's CEO, said that having professionals with EHR experience is “critical.“ She added: “It's encouraging to see the majority of our members are prepared.“

Of the 30% of respondents who said they believe they are not as prepared, 56% believe they need more process reengineering skills; 53% need more database technologies skills; and 48% reported needing more project management skills.

“If President [George] Bush's goal of an EHR for every American by 2014 is to be met, all HIM professionals will need to take a leadership role in their own organizations,“ said Charlene Marietti, editor of Healthcare Informatics. “Healthcare organizations are going to need HIM professionals with a deep understanding of the technologies involved.“

Complete research results appear in the February issue of Healthcare Informatics and more in-depth analysis of the findings can be found in the March issue of the Journal of AHIMA.

The National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS; Washington) continues to work on a set of national recommendations for EHRs.

The White House has proposed that the federal government spend $125 million in the proposed budget for 2006. The government is currently spending $50 million on EHR efforts, though direct funding for the office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology David Brailer was cut from the 2005 budget Congress approved last year.

“Though it may look somewhat chaotic, there are a lot of people working to coordinate [EHR] efforts,“ Sean Tunis, MD, chief medical officer for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS; Baltimore), recently told Medical Device Daily. “David Brailer has brought a lot of leadership and energy to the department, and is quite involved in conversations with CMS and other agencies about our related activities.“

Tunis said that last year's funding for EHR was “never a congressional priority,“ but that it continues to be an administration priority.

Earlier this month, as part of ongoing EHR activities, CMS outlined proposed regulations on electronic prescriptions — also called e-prescribing — for Medicare recipients.

No Comments