'Most Wired' find ways to cope in bad economy

A common characteristic among this year's list of "100 Most Wired" healthcare provider organizations is the ability to forge ahead with IT projects in the face of economic turmoil, a lengthy to-do list, the hurry-up-and-wait reality of federal EMR subsidies and countless unknowns related to comprehensive healthcare reform.

"[W]e have changed our focus from implementing new systems, to really driving the full value out of the systems we have," Jim Keller, information services director at Battle Creek (MI) Health System, tells Hospitals & Health Networks, which published its annual list this week. The magazine lists the 100 designees in alphabetical order rather than ranking them, so there is no single "Most Wired" hospital, just an honor roll.

Top IT shops have not been immune from the recession and are dealing with tighter budgets, so many have been forced to defer major capital investments and some non-essential projects. CIOs also are weighing their clinical implementations against the forthcoming switch to ICD-10 coding and 5010 transaction standards, new Medicare recovery audit contractor rules and tighter HIPAA privacy and security regulations, while also waiting for HHS to define "meaningful use" and set the certification process for EMRs.

"Many of these items will require a large level of funding in the 2010-2012 timeframe," says Denver Health CIO Gregory Veltri. "I believe we will have to stop some projects and slow down others in order to fund projects that ensure adherence to the new regulations, security and direction put forth by these changes."

For more on the "100 Most Wired," including lists of the most improved and most wireless:
- check out HHN's July cover story