Health execs uneasy about EHR budgets, survey finds

About half the business administrators at hospitals or health systems who participated in a recent poll conducted by New York-based audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG said they're halfway or more done with deployment of their electronic health record system; 48 percent, however, said they're only somewhat comfortable with their organization's budget for doing so.

Only 25 percent said they were very comfortable with the budget, while 9 percent indicated they were not comfortable at all.

"There is a level of uneasiness as to whether there is adequate funding to complete these projects," Gary Anthony, principal with KPMG Healthcare said in a announcement. "In most organizations, EHR deployment will most likely be one of the most transformational projects that they've ever undertaken, as well as one of the largest investments outside of the construction of a new hospital they've ever made. Yet, many organizations view EHR as just an IT project and that may be why we are seeing multiple extensions to scope, timeline and budget."

The poll was part of a KPMG Healthcare & Pharmaceutical Institute webcast held last month on on EHR deployment best practices. More than 220 hospital and health system administrators chose to take part in the survey.

Among other findings:

  • 46 percent said they are using a multiple resource strategy. Sixteen percent are relying on existing staff; 13 percent are hiring more staff; and 10 percent are looking to third-party assistance.
  • When asked whether their plans included "anywhere" mobile access to EHR data, about half responded "don't know."

The organization stressed the need to adequately budget for the project and ensure the correct sponsorship and commitment to its use and ongoing support.

The cost of implementing EHR systems can be daunting--millions of dollars by some accounts--with the siren call of incentive payments wooing healthcare organizations to spend more than they reasonably can afford. At the same time, underfunded projects are likely to fail. Healthcare spending overall has been growing slowly, but IT expenditures continue to rise.

Anthony's remarks echoed those from several hospital executives who attended last fall's College of Health Information Management Executives annual forum. There, executives stressed that Meaningful Use is not solely an IT project, and that it requires keeping the all the players involved every day.  

To learn more:
- read the press release
- replay the webcast