Electronic medical records, or EMRs, are the top priority for health care IT workers, according to an Embarcadero Technologies survey. Other areas of concern include data warehouses and health information exchanges.
Electronic medical records, or EMRs, are the top priority for IT
professionals working in the health care industry, according to a new survey by
a San Francisco-based application development and database management firm. The
study also found that for IT pros, meeting the challenges of working with data
warehouses and health care information exchanges were also areas of focus.
The survey results, which were announced on July 19, showed that EMRs were a
key priority for 61 percent of respondents.
Embarcadero, maker of Delphi and C++ Builder,
collected information on the biggest challenges in health care IT as far as
data management and tools.
The survey found that 85 percent of health care IT professionals are either
working on an EMR project or plan to in the
next 18 months. The second-highest priority for 52 percent of respondents was
building health data warehouses. In third place, 47 percent of IT pros said
that health information exchanges remained a top priority.
The survey was sent to 3,000 workers in health care IT, including
developers, data administrators, data architects and executives.
Government financial incentives are the driving force behind the move toward
electronic medical records and data management, said Shahid Shah, an
Embarcadero consultant, author of the Health Care IT Guy
and a developer of health care applications for organizations such as
the American Red Cross, CardinalHealth and the National Institutes of Health.
"If you can make the data structured and it helps you get paid better,
they'll do it," Shah told eWEEK. "To help a patient from a clinical
POV, it most likely won't get done."
The federal government is setting aside $19 billion through ARRA (American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act) to implement EMRs under the HITECH (Health
Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act's meaningful-use
The Embarcadero research was carried out in March and April, a few months
before the government released final meaningful-use guidelines. Yet according
to Embarcadero, many health care IT professionals were planning work on EMRs
Josh Howard, Embarcadero's senior manager of product marketing, was
surprised to learn that 74 percent of respondents had a good understanding of meaningful-use requirements
"People are struggling with meaningful use and certification,"
Howard told eWEEK. "A lot of them understand the requirements but are not
sure they can meet the timeframes and deadlines the government has set."
Shah agreed with that assessment.
"They understand broadly what it is, but there are a good chunk of
developers that don't have a clue about the details," said Shah.
Shah noted that health information exchanges, such as the cloud platform
announced last week by Verizon
, are one of the major meaningful-use objectives set
by the government. "Without a useful, easy-to-use HIE, there are a lot of
requirements that can't be met," he said.
Clinical data warehouses are important so medical professionals can analyze
the data and help to improve medical outcomes. Shah explained that data
warehouses will be necessary under the meaningful-use guidelines to implement
what he calls "structured note-taking," or moving from unstructured
(paper) to structured (electronic).
"CMS is giving out this money
because CMS wants data," Shah
explained. "If you have the data, you can make decisions about predictive
analysis of health care."
Although 61 percent of respondents in the survey listed EMRs as a priority,
not all are implementing them in a way that can be shared or analyzed for
demographic trends, Shah explained. Many are simply scanned for record-keeping
"You can't do analysis and comparison with just images," Shah
said. "The majority that think they're doing electronic today is simply
scanning, imaging and document managing-it's not structured data with
Although EMRs are a priority for the health care industry, Embarcadero found
that no leader exists in providing the services. "It's a very fragmented
field," Shah said. Of the respondents, 13.2 percent named Epic as a
provider, 11.3 percent named Cerner and 7.5 percent cited Siemens.
Interoperability will be the linchpin for implementation of EMRs, said Shah,
adding that that three out of 15 core requirements in the HHS
meaningful-use regulations call for it.
"If you're going to actually meet meaningful use, interoperability and
exchange of data are now going be a norm," said Shah. "It's not going
to be the extreme; it's not going to be one of those things you do on the side.
My system is your system plus your system. If you don't do that, you're not
really a meaningful user. That's huge."