CIOs appear cautiously optimistic about their chances for achieving stimulus funding under the HITECH Act, according to a new poll from the College of Health Information Management Executives (CHIME).
The survey, which was conducted in August, had responses from 152 CHIME members. It revealed that 28 percent of CIOs expect to qualify for stimulus funding in the first six months of fiscal year 2011, which begins on October 1, 2010. An additional 62 percent reported that they expect to qualify between April 1, 2011, and September 30, 2012, which marks the end of Stage 1 of the incentive program.
Only 10 percent believe they will not qualify for stimulus funds until fiscal years 2013 or 2014.
CHIME’s membership comprises more than 1,400 chief information officers and other senior healthcare IT executives. Approximately 11 percent of CHIME’s membership responded to the survey.
CHIME members who are versed in the intricacies of the evolving federal program to incentivize the installation of electronic health records (EHRs) caution that much remains unknown about how the federal program will operate. Even though CHIME timed the survey to occur a few weeks after the July 13 release of the final regulations covering meaningful use objectives, top IT executives are still finding out about the nuances of the program, and many details remain unknown.
“CIOs are still early in the discovery process,” said Pamela McNutt, senior vice president and CIO of Methodist Health System, Dallas, and chair of CHIME’s Policy Steering Committee. “We don’t yet have a complete understanding of the certification process and its impact on providers. The reality of what it will take to qualify for stimulus funding won’t be fully known until our vendors have obtained certification.”
CHIME also is submitting a list of questions to federal officials requesting clarification on key questions on various facets of the EHR stimulus funding program.
Expectations vary depending on the type of healthcare organization and its size. For example, 38 percent of CIO respondents from academic medical centers expect to qualify for stimulus funding within the first six months, compared with only 22 percent of CIOs at community hospitals. In general, executives of larger organizations say they are more likely to qualify for funding within six months, compared with responses from smaller facilities.
While respondents generally predict a high degree of success in qualifying for stimulus funding, only two-thirds of respondents from hospitals with 100 to 199 beds say they will get funding within the first two fiscal years that the Stage 1 criteria are in effect. By contrast, nearly all respondents from facilities with 600 to 999 beds expect to qualify for stimulus funding within the first two years of the program.
Providers’ potential to receive funding is still predicated on their ability to solve several challenges that many see as large obstacles standing in the way of meeting meaningful use requirements. The survey found that more IT executives are concerned about the certification program that will approve applications for use by providers seeking to participate in the program. About a quarter of respondents cited concerns directly or indirectly related to certification.
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