Costs remain a barrier to HIE adoption, says report

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Despite the benefits of implementing health information exchanges (HIEs), many healthcare providers are struggling to launch HIE projects due to budgetary restrictions, reports Information Week.

Beacon Partners, a healthcare management consultancy and advisory firm, surveyed more than 200 C-Suite executives to ascertain their position on the cost effectiveness of launching an HIE project. Approximately 41 percent of professionals polled said initial financial investment and insufficient capital were major obstacles to the implementation of HIEs in their organizations.

An additional 38 percent indicated their operating budgets for HIE projects were less than $1 million, and one in five executives said they had no budgetary allocations for HIE initiatives.

“These organizations will rely on seed money, start-up funding or grants,” Kevin Burchill, director of Beacon Partners, told the news source. “The problem with this model is that there is a varying level of commitment to the HIE program, and for those that are too dependent on the seed money, it affects the long-term sustainability of the HIE program.”

More than half of the survey respondents were chief information officers. Almost 60 percent of the participants were from community hospitals, and an additional 42 percent were from critical access hospitals.

Despite financial obstacles, implementing an HIE remains a priority for many healthcare IT departments. According to The Republic, many states are actively involved in deploying HIE networks across hospitals and medical centers. The news source reports that increasing adoption of medical informatics systems and the development of statewide HIE initiatives could create as many as 50,000 new jobs in the sector.

Additionally, the federal government is investing more than $116 million in the development and promotion of healthcare IT training programs and degrees. Such initiatives could provide the next generation of clinical information workers with the skills they need to meet expected demands on the workforce.