Insights From the Sixth Annual Health IT Industry Outlook Survey

Over 300 HIT professionals shared their insights in the sixth annual Health IT Industry Outlook survey. The results focus on health IT leaders working collaboratively to stay on top of evolving staffing, EHR system and technological advancement trends for operational efficiency and proactive patient care. Hospital IT departments continue to struggle with strained resources and competing projects. As the industry pushes forward with value-based care, the ability to optimize technology and workflow within an organization is vital for success. Here are four key takeaways from the 2018 survey:

  1. Need for a cross-disciplinary team

Within the survey, measuring improvement in patient care quality was rated as the top business objective (40 percent) by health IT leaders. Outdated passive measurement processes no longer work in today’s complex health systems. Considering competitive pressure in the new healthcare landscape, each hospital department must eliminate communication silos for a cohesive strategic conversation. To proactively establish efficient workflow, reporting needs and streamlined communication, create a cross-disciplinary team from all areas impacted by a new or optimized EHR system. Healthcare organizations need to look at the full picture of patient care to make proactive decisions.

Survey Teaser #1

  1. HIT staffing solutions

Optimizing IT/EHR performance (32 percent) and overcoming IT staff shortages (31 percent) were cited almost equally as the most significant challenges in 2018 among survey participants. To strategically address healthcare IT staffing challenges, identify support gaps by creating a visual support map covering all facilities, applications and tools impacted by a new EHR or large-scale IT deployment. You can be creative in staffing by looking to local sources such as area colleges to utilize students in IT, healthcare administration, education, nursing or healthcare-related programs. This can be helpful during short-term projects like system go-lives or vendor upgrade support.

  1. Integration for quality care improvement

Clinical application and implementation support (32 percent) remain the top 2018 IT outsourcing requests, followed by hospital IT service desk support (28 percent). While EHR adoption is nearly universal across the country, there is much more depth to a full system implementation than an initial go live. Integration is essential for improving care quality and ensures that health organizations have a comprehensive, accurate and reliable perspective on their care performance reporting. HIT leaders can combat health system interoperability challenges by focusing on tight integration of IT platforms and data across internal hospitals, practices, providers and even patients at home. A clinically consultative HIT service desk can help identify siloed issues with workflow and end-user errors while serving as a single source of contact.

  1. Making MACRA a habit

Finally, the survey found that most organizations stills struggle to align reporting priorities with practices within year 2 of MACRA. Forty percent of survey participants reported feeling underprepared for year 2, and only 12 percent felt very prepared. When organizations are short-handed for IT support and optimization, it can impact other initiatives such as MACRA reporting strategy. By making the data capture and analysis more automated and consistent, preparation can be easier. The result will be more detailed documentation, better EHR utilization and QPP category maximization – making strategic MIPS participation a more simplified process.

A Big Thank You for Best in KLAS

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Last Thursday, we were thrilled to announce that Stoltenberg Consulting strengthened its legacy of renowned healthcare IT consulting services by earning not one, but two 2014 Best in KLAS awards! (Wahoo!)

In the 2014 Best in KLAS: Software & Services report, KLAS Research awarded Stoltenberg 2014 Best in KLAS for both IT Outsourcing (Partial), which includes Stoltenberg’s legacy support and IT Help Desk Service Line, and Clinical Implementation Supportive with scores of 90.9 and 97.9 out of 100 respectively*.

These accolades would not be possible without your help. We are sincerely thankful for the honest, unbiased feedback our clients provided to KLAS Research, like the following:

“I feel like I can trust Stoltenberg Consulting as if they work for me directly.  I have really come to depend on them. They work around the clock to help our project stay on track and be successful. I am really appreciative of their dedication and follow up. In addition to working with them side by side every day, we also have a monthly tracking call so we can all see where we are and what needs to get taken care of. I find that call to be very productive and helpful.”

-IT Director, December 2014 **

READ FULL PRESS RELEASE 

Annual Best in KLAS reports independently monitor vendor performance through the active participation of healthcare executives, managers and clinicians representing over 4,500 hospitals and 2,500 clinics. For a complete view of commentaries related to these services, visit KLASresearch.com.

Thank you again to our clients for their continued support! We’re so pleased to be with you on your journey towards improved patient care and efficiency.

* “2014 Best in KLAS Awards: Software & Services,” January 2015. © 2015 KLAS Enterprises, LLC. All rights reserved. www.KLASresearch.com.

** The above selected commentary may not represent the whole of provider sentiment related to this product or service. Visit http://KLASresearch.com for a complete view. Collected about IT Outsourcing (Partial), by KLAS in December 2014 © KLAS Enterprises, LLC. All rights reserved. http://www.KLASresearch.com.

Overcoming Barriers to Meaningful Use Achievement

What are the barriers holding organizations back from achieving Meaningful Use? The majority of responses to our survey conducted at HIMSS14 indicated the biggest barrier as a lack of resources (50%) while other responses noted restricted timeframes (23%), lack of buy-in from the organization (15%) and competing IT projects (12%).

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As we near the close of our HIMSS14 Industry Survey blog series, we ask, how do we address a lack of resources? While they can’t exactly grow a few money trees to solve their issues, organizations can take the following steps to better address the problem.

Planning & Strategy
Giving proper attention to both short-term and long-term planning behind implementations can enable organizations to strategically allocate existing resources in a manner that maximizes their efficiency, delivers results and minimizes the gaps created by a lack of resources. Placing significant planning and strategy towards the utilization of staff resources also helps prevent the burnout, and potential resignation, of current staff due to high levels of stress and exhaustion.

Building the Right Staff
Last year, the 2013 HIMSS Workforce Survey reported that nearly 80% of healthcare providers and IT vendors planned to hire additional staff but almost a third of organizations had to place IT initiatives on hold due to staffing shortages. Beyond that, 43% of the organizations and 56% of vendors blamed such shortages on the lack of a qualified talent pool. 

When you can’t find a qualified talent pool, work to create one. Organizations must invest in the hiring and training of their future workforce. They can do so by establishing partnerships, such as university programs, to educate, offer internships and eventually bring on the right candidates. Organizations can then develop internal training programs that utilize senior members to help new workers learn quickly and become highly competent HIT professionals. A great example of such a program is our own Junior Consultant Program. A proper focus on building a strong foundation for the next wave of HIT professionals via an emphasis on thorough training and HIT education is beneficial to healthcare as a whole.

Outsourcing
As limited budgets and staffing issues cause their IT initiatives to suffer, organizations can utilize outsourced HIT services as a cost-effective and experienced solution for success. By identifying the areas and functions that would benefit most from the application of outsourced professionals and services, organizations can avoid overworking internal staff and exhausting already limited time and resources.

An example of how an outsourced service can greatly benefit an organization’s staff and resources can be indicated by the help desk function. Some areas critical to the success of a hospital or healthcare organization include the well-being of their IT analysts and the satisfaction of their end users – both of which can be positively affected by a successful help desk function. An outsourced help desk service line that is well established in the industry can deliver what an internal help desk sometimes cannot: an already considerable knowledge base, experience with issues and resolutions from working with other organizations and 24/7 reliability and functionality possible through its virtual and remote nature.

As illustrated in the case of the help desk function, outsourcing is a capable middle ground when resources are limited and staff workload is already high. Additionally, the significantly reduced operational time and costs outsourcing provides can be very valuable, as reflected by the forecasted growth of the healthcare IT outsourcing market.

Meaningful Use is a long road and one that requires an organization’s full attention and support to be achieved in a way that provides some return on investment. Resources will always fall short and the time we have will never feel like enough – so organizations must act proactively and strategically with what is available to do their part in working towards a successful future in healthcare. In the words of Teddy Roosevelt, “nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty” – a fitting caption for our journey to a transformed, improved healthcare system.