Hospitals Making Last-Minute Plays To Capture Meaningful Use Dollars

So, many U.S. hospital CIOs are planning to spend more on IT during this year, along with their peers in Europe, Australia and Canada. But as you’ll see, the number who are ramping up spending sharply is surprisingly small, given the huge demands the cresting EMR wave imposes.

According to U.K.-based research firm Ovum, 42 percent of the 152 CIOs it surveyed are planning to spend up in 2011, and 22 percent of them plan big spending boosts. That’s up from 14 percent who planned big spending increases in 2010, according to a report in Information Week.

Meanwhile, the number of CIOs planning to cut their budgets dropped from 22 percent in 2010 to 17 percent this year. (Those numbers aren’t so surprising, given that hospitals seem to be finally recovering from the economic disaster that dominated 2008 through 2010.)

According to the magazine, spending increases in the U.S. are prompted by a play for Meaningful Use dollars. OK, I can buy that, up to a point.

But isn’t it a little late to begin ramping up the IT budget, if you hope to collect MU dollars, well, essentially right away? Besides, hospitals are facing some of the biggest IT demands in decades, driven by quality and patient management challenges ranging well beyond the need to install and manage EMRs/EHRs.

To me, the whole thing is a bit puzzling. If less than one-quarter of hospitals in the U.S. are actually spending big on IT t his year, either most of them have gotten through a costly, years-long EMR implementation and integration process already, or they think they can squeeze in under the Meaningful Use gate at the last minute. Both are pretty hard to swallow.

Unfortunately, I suspect the latter — a last-minute rush for MU dollars — is more likely. Even in a deliberate, big-picture job like IT planning, there’s always someone who thinks they can cut things close to the deadline, I guess.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

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