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Healthcare CIOs Worried About Achieving Meaningful Use

While the U.S. government is still finalizing its criteria for the meaningful use incentive programs of the HITECH Act, a new study shows that eight-in-10 healthcare CIOs are worried about meeting the requirements in time to qualify for the $20 billion-plus rewards. According to the survey, CIOs' biggest worries revolve around the anticipated reporting requirements and uncertainty around the meaningful use criteria.

The study by PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Research Institute earlier this year surveyed 120 CIOs and other health IT leaders who are members of the College of Healthcare Management Executives, a professional organization for health IT executives. Ninety-four percent of the survey respondents said they are concerned about how to report meaningful use and 92% said they are worried about "remaining lack of clarity" in the meaningful use criteria.

While the first round of meaningful rewards start in 2011, the federal government has not yet issued its final meaningful use requirements. Near-final rules were released earlier this year, however the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services has been working on its final requirements for several months, including evaluating the approximately 2,000 public comments it received about its proposed rules.

National Coordinator for Health IT Dr. David Blumenthal has said in recent interviews and at public events that meaningful use criteria will be finalized in "late spring." A spokeswoman for the office of national coordinator said in an email to InformationWeek on Monday that the rules will be released in "the near future" but did not specify a timeframe.

Meanwhile, the study also found that fueling CIOs' anxiety are concerns about balancing meaningful use efforts with other management priorities (83%); overall cost (79%); achieving return of investment within a reasonable timeframe (75%); access to capital (71%); and the availability of skilled IT resources (70%). Other concerns include infrastructure requirements, vendor readiness, and effecting behavioral change across their organizations.

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