Health IT plans affect financial ratings

If you're a health IT leader, you already know that your work has a critical impact on how your organization operates. But did you know that the design of your health IT program can also have an impact on how the financial industry sees your institution? According to one expert, a director of Healthcare Ratings at Standard & Poor's in New York, credit rating agencies, banks, bond insurers and other financial institutions take a look at the soundness of a healthcare organization's IT plans at many points in their analytical process. This includes when they consider investing, underwriting bond issues or rating the soundness of these bonds. The hospital and health system debt rating process, for example, relies in part on evaluation of IT use, because raters see IT plans as a partial measure of the strength of management, ability to relate to physicians and ability to make smart capital investments. Questions these groups ponder include:

  • What kind of systems (such as EMRs, CPOE, financial systems, BI or more) are the health organization's priority?
  • What does the healthcare organization hope to accomplish by making a given IT investment?
  • What percentage does IT represent of the health organization's overall capital budget for the next five years?
  • What obstacles does the IT plan face, and how is the organization addressing those potential hurdles?

Of course, process changes that support higher-quality medicine are always going to be a health organization's top priority, notes S&P's Liz Sweeney. But good IT planning can do a lot to serve a healthcare organization's mission, which definitely has an effect on the way it will be seen in the financial community.

Get more background on the health IT and credit rating issue:
- read this piece from HHN Most Wired