Report: Health IT infrastructure often an afterthought at large hospitals

Providers are becoming increasingly more reliant on information technology, if a new report by CDW Healthcare released this morning is any indication. According to the technology vendor, 84 percent of responding doctors and nurses viewed healthcare IT as "invaluable or valuable," while 71 percent said they could accomplish, at most, half of their workload without the help of IT.

"The survey results debunk the myth that caregivers don't like or don't want IT," Bob Rossi, vice president of CDW Healthcare, told FierceHealthIT. "They also underscore that IT professionals are doing a good job of delivering and supporting healthcare IT solutions."

Additionally, 56 percent of healthcare IT professionals indicated that they had deployed an electronic health record system over the last 18 months, while 32 percent said they had deployed health information exchange.

Despite such reliance, 80 percent of HIT professionals admitted that infrastructure to support such technology often was an afterthought. Fifty-eight percent said they had implemented a server, storage or network program after implementing a new IT system on more than one occasion, a surprising finding, according to Rossi, and one that needs to be remedied sooner rather than later.

"Caregivers experience those solutions-even if they deliver enormous capability-as slower, less reliable and less useful," Rossi said. "Healthcare executives need to support their IT departments when their budget includes resources for a new caregiver system and the supporting infrastructure. The IT staff understands it; the line executives, not always so much."

Additionally, Rossi said, such allocations need to focus on understanding the user's experience, as opposed to simply being rolled out for the sake of touting "neat new tools." Training, he said, also needs more attention

"The tail doesn't wag the dog, so IT needs to focus on the people who use the technology," Rossi said. "And compared to the cost of training someone to be a caregiver, training them to be a good IT user is nominal. Still, healthcare organizations are under-investing here and are seeing disproportionately lower returns as a result."

The study consisted of 201 providers and 200 HIT professionals at hospitals with 200 beds or more.

To learn more:
- here's the report (.pdf)

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