Survey shows federal regulations may put strain on health care industry

Many health care providers of both large and small practices have experienced difficulties meeting the regulatory demands imposed by the Department of Health & Human Services. According to a recent survey by Peak 10, these requirements are having a significant effect on health IT professionals. The negative effects may even be causing a decline in the industry.  

Government regulations have negative impact 
Peak 10 surveyed C-level executives and information technology professionals at 149 health care organizations across the U.S. The results showed that 60 percent of the respondents feel that government regulations are reducing the efficiency and care quality throughout the health care industry.

A total of 94 percent also agreed that meaningful use requirements, ICD-10 compliance and other mandates are getting in the way of the decision-making process behind their IT strategies. The poll showed that health professionals feel they do not have the skills or resources to properly adhere to the complex government standards. Past studies have also shown that IT departments are underfunded and understaffed. This makes it difficult to implement initiatives directed at cutting costs. 

Budgets set aside for IT are either staying the same or decreasing. In fact, 1 out of 4 survey participants said that their budgets would drop in the near future, while a slightly higher percentage reported that their budgets will remain the same. The poll recorded 34 percent who said their budgets would increase.

Providers also reported that the industry is drifting from its focus on new IT developments and innovation due to the strain the government has placed on professionals to meet meaningful use and prepare for ICD-10 implementation in October. 

"Healthcare organizations need a smooth transition to electronic health record systems," Christina Kyriazi, manager of market insights and analytics at Peak 10, said in a public statement. "Technology is seen as the enabler to a better patient experience, giving patients more control over their personal information and healthcare history, therefore empowering them to trust their healthcare provider and to make more sound and well-informed decisions for themselves."

Organizations show new reliance on third parties
In addition to results concerning government regulations, the poll discovered that the majority of the health care industry is moving toward the cloud with Software as a Service. The survey showed that the reason that cloud adoption is advancing is strict meaningful use requirements.

Most respondents also noted that they are starting to search for partners who can address problems with privacy and security. Health IT companies are relying on third parties to fulfill their lack of technical expertise. The poll showed that 77 percent of organizations, including hospitals, biotech firms and pharmaceuticals, are actively seeking either additional consultants or partners to enhance the reliability of their IT systems. 

There is also a need for data security due to privacy issues that have come up for 70 percent of participants. The findings highlight that a total of 50 percent of respondents currently rely entirely on third-party consultants to help them with their IT strategies.  

The main purpose of using third parties is to save time. There are also limited resources available, causing a serious need for deeper technical understanding from a partner or consultant. 

Mobile health and EHRs are impacting all aspects of the health care industry. These government regulations, like meaningful use and ICD-10 compliance, are not expected to stop impacting the health industry any time soon. It is essential that providers are investing in an EHR system that was designed to help them adhere to meaningful use and comply with the new ICD-10 codes. 

A strong support system is also an important aspect offered by reliable EHR vendors. Software support and a meaningful resource center will reduce the negative impact that federal regulations have the potential to inflict on health professionals.