Generally speaking, cutting back on IT projects and spending is a tricky thing. In some cases spending can be postponed, but other times, slicing a budget can have serious consequences.
One area where cutting budgets can cause major problems is in preparing to roll out EMRs, especially cuts to training, which can lead to problems with rollouts, resentment, medical mistakes, system downtime due to mistakes and more. Also, skimping on training can lead to a domino effect which results in the exit of CEOs and other senior leaders, which has happened several times (that we know of) over the past couple of years.
A recent survey of hospital technology leaders representing 650 hospitals nationwide published by HIMSS underscores this trend. Respondents told HIMSS said that despite increases in IT budgets, they still struggled to complete IT projects due to financial limitations. In fact, 25 percent said that financial survival was their top priority.
What that comes down to, it seems, is that promising initiatives fall by the roadside if they don’t contribute to EMR success. For example, providers are stepping back from HIE participation because they feel they can’t afford to be involved, according to a HIMSS Analytics survey published last fall.
Instead, hospitals are taking steps to enhance and build on their EMR investment. For example, as FierceHealthIT notes, Partners HealthCare recently chose to pull together all of its EMR efforts under a single vendor. In the past, Partners had used a combo of homegrown systems and vendor products, but IT leaders there felt that this arrangement was too expensive to continue, according to Becker’s Hospital Review.
This laser focus on EMRs may be necessary at present, as the EMR is arguably the most mission-critical software hospitals have in place at the moment. The question, as I see it, is whether this will cripple hospitals in the future. Eventually, I’d argue, mobile health will become a priority for hospitals and medical practices, as will some form of HIE participation, just to name the first two technologies that come to mind. In three to five years, if they don’t fund initiatives in these areas, hospitals may look up and find that they’re hopelessly behind .