Survey: Hospitals devote 40% of IT budgets to infrastructure

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Hospitals with stronger IT infrastructures enjoy significantly better performance and results from their clinical applications than providers who deploy applications without concurrent investments in infrastructure, according to new survey results from CDW Healthcare.

CDW conducted the online survey of more than 500 IT and clinical healthcare professionals from hospitals across the United States in February of this year, to compare two separate aspects of health IT:

• client technologies/IT infrastructure, such as desktops, laptops and tablet PCs; and
• clinical applications, such as EMRs, computerized physician order entry (CPOE) and positive patient ID (PPID).

Infrastructure Matters

The survey found that IT professionals in healthcare organizations view clinical applications as having a greater impact on patient care than infrastructure: 67 percent of respondents described applications as "critical" to patient care compared to only 50 percent of respondents who viewed infrastructure with the same importance.

Despite the focus on the application, hospitals taking a balanced approach and devoting 40 percent or more of their IT budget to infrastructure expansion reap sizable rewards: 71 percent of providers with balanced infrastructure investments report "outstanding" performance from their clinical applications versus only 29 percent of providers who devote fewer resources to infrastructure.

Compared with healthcare organizations who de-emphasize infrastructure, hospitals that perceive infrastructure as "critical" to quality patient care report reduced operating costs more frequently (57 vs. 41 percent) and increased patient satisfaction (50 vs. 36 percent).

At the same time, health IT professionals often focus on application features and functions while focusing less on the client technologies that will speed caregiver adoption. When implementing clinical applications, providers cite product features such as clinical capability and cost (59 percent and 50 percent, respectively) as top concerns, with only 30 percent of respondents identifying interoperability and 26 percent identifying ease of caregiver adoption as important attributes. Consequently, among providers who have already deployed applications, primary challenges included excessive helpdesk calls and prolonged user training (46 percent), significant lag times during clinical usage (28 percent), lack of interoperability (28 percent) and unreliable performance (21 percent).

"With the pressure mounting to generate quality improvements and return on investment, the cost and capability of clinical applications are obviously important concerns for any healthcare provider," said Bob Rossi, vice president, healthcare sales for CDW Healthcare. "However, the interoperability of applications as well as the ease with which those technologies are adopted by caregivers are the factors that truly drive long-term business and clinical value. Until providers devote sufficient resources to resolving these issues, they will continue to suffer from sub-optimal application performance, frustrated clinicians and an IT staff besieged with helpdesk calls."