PHRs, portals both popular and not so popular
Few healthcare information systems are plug-and-play. It takes time for healthcare information technology leaders to plan for, budget, select, buy and install these systems, and for front-line staffers to adapt their workflows to them.
With these long glide paths in mind, Modern Healthcare asked readers to provide a status report on their planning, implementation and use of various IT systems. The meaningful-use targets under the federal stimulus law appear to figure into their time lines for a variety of IT projects.
Respondents reported their priorities for each of 13 IT projects by placing them in one of five categories: planned but not started; implementation to begin within 12 months; implementation in progress; implemented and operational; and not contemplated at this time. Some of the highlights: Among IT systems with implementations in progress, workflow automation, clinical decision support at the point of care, and computerized physician order entry led the pack.
For those to be implemented within 12 months, survey participants favored adding systems for computerized clinical decision support, joining a regional health information organization or a health information exchange and introducing expert quality systems.
Ironically, two Web-based, personalhealth applications—personal healthrecord, or PHR, systems for patients and Web-based patient portals, both of which afford patients access to their medical records—ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in two different and opposite survey categories.
Both PHRs and patient portals are examples of systems that are often described as “Health 2.0,” the healthcare derivative of the Web 2.0 coinage of IT publisher Tim O’Reilly.
In the category of planned but not started, implementing a PHR was the top pick (chosen by 39% of survey respondents) and a patient portal was the second pick (chosen by 32%).
At the same time, in the category of systems that were not being contemplated at this time, PHRs ranked No. 1 (chosen by 26%) and patient portals No. 2 (picked by 22%).
Dave Garets is president and CEO of HIMSS Analytics, the market research arm of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. Garets says many of the top choices in the survey in the categories of implementations in progress and to be implemented in the next 12 months could be viewed as addressing the provider requirement to meet the proposed meaningful-use criteria of the stimulus law.
Garets also says he was “impressed” that so many leaders are at least planning to add a PHR, with a patient portal selected “right behind it.”
“The fact that those two were the top two is really interesting,” Garets says. “I didn’t think they were ready for prime time yet.”