Meaningful Use to Drive Health IT Spending

An improving economy and the meaningful use requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are likely to spur medical industry spending in 2010.

The concept of meaningful use "appears to be spurring an increase in health care information technology (IT) spending along with a brightening economy," according to the results of the 21st Annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Leadership Survey. HIMSS said in a news release:

""Asked to identify their single IT priority during the next two years, 42 percent of respondents identified meeting meaningful use criteria. Many likely will be doing so by implementing clinical systems: when asked to identify their organization's primary clinical IT focus, 35 percent said it would be ensuring their organization has a fully functional electronic medical record (EMR) in place and 27 percent said it would focus on installing a [computerized physician order entry] (CPOE) system.""

HIMSS explained:

""Signed February 17, 2009, the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) promises financial incentives to providers and hospitals for the "meaningful use" of certified healthcare IT products. Although criteria for meaningful use won't be established until later this year, nearly four-fifths (59 percent) of the 398 respondents to this year's survey say they plan to make additional investments to position themselves to qualify for the incentives.""

In December of 2009, the Department of Health and Human Services published a 23-element definition of "meaningful use." These elements included 22 transactional items such as CPOE. The 23rd element concerned security of all of the transactional items. Health care providers must perform 25 different measures of meaningful use objectives such as e-prescribing and CPOE, based on proposed rules issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid published in January.

"Many health care executives are paying attention to the improving financial picture, evaluating their systems and starting to make investments," HIMSS Chairman Barry Chaiken said in a statement. "A year ago, spending was down and hospitals were feeling pressure, but the stabilizing of the economy and the ARRA meaningful use provision has provided an incentive for making health care IT investments."

The importance of meaningful use "was reflected in answers throughout the survey," HIMSS said. "More than one-third (38 percent) said government issues were the business issue they felt would have the biggest impact on health care in the next two years, whereas last year, only 6 percent thought that was the case. This year's response reflects compliance with new regulations regarding meaningful use, as well as coding upgrades and claim processes impacted by ICD-10 (the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases) and the updated version of HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] (5010)."