Budget concerns force hospital CIOs to skip non-critical IT projects

Budget constraints have forced many hospital CIOs at entities large and small to triage potential projects and move forward with only those efforts deemed the most necessary, reports Becker's Hospital CIO.

For instance, Stephen Stewart, CIO at 25-bed Henry County Health Center in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, recently told Becker's that his facility opted not to pursue the implementation of a desktop virtualization infrastructure that staff clinicians asked for.

Instead, Stewart said, he chose to invest in the hospital's electronic health record system.

"We've started to really ask the question, 'Is this a business need or is it a convenience?'" Stewart, who also serves on FierceHealthIT's Editorial Advisory Board, told Becker's. "We ... can't be all things to all people."

Likewise, Scott MacLean, deputy CIO at Boston-based Partners HealthCare--the largest health system in Massachusetts--said the organization recently chose to consolidate all of its EHR efforts under one vendor. Previously, Partners had used a combination of homegrown systems and vendor products, something MacLean told Becker's was simply too expensive to continue.

Responses to a survey of hospital technology leaders representing 650 hospitals nationwide published by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society in February substantiate the trend. Participants said that despite IT budget increases, their top barrier to successful implementation of IT was a lack of financial resources. What's more, 25 percent of responding organizations said sustaining financial viability was their top priority.

Survey respondents also noted that financial considerations--including the creation of new revenue sources--were among their most pressing business issues.

A HIMSS Analytics survey published last fall, meanwhile, revealed that limited financial resources have been a big hurdle to health information exchange participation.

In a white paper published by consulting firm Deloitte in April 2013, hospital CIOs identified securing adequate financial resources as one of five primary challenges to moving forward with future health IT endeavors.

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