Data sheds light on IT purchasing, use

July 2, 2014 in Medical Technology

The Dorenfest Institute for Health Information has opened up new HIMSS Analytics data, offering insights into the IT usage patterns of thousands of U.S. hospitals and ambulatory clinics.

[See also: An EHR 'buying spree'? Maybe not quite]

With an eye toward driving care improvement, Dorenfest Institute, which is managed by the HIMSS Foundation, provides academic researchers and local, state and federal government agencies with a variety of historical data and reports about information technology use in hospitals and health networks.

These newly-released numbers track IT use at some 5,400 U.S. hospitals and the more than 26,000 affiliated ambulatory practices. Data is now available from 1986 through 2012. To access it, organizations can submit an application at the Dorenfest website.

[See also: Premier app gives pricing info on the go]

In addition, Dorenfest and HIMSS Analytics have recently published another study, which analyzes hospitals’ IT buying behaviors based on their tax status.

The report mines Dorenfest data from 2010 to 2012, as well as the 2013 year-end HIMSS Analytics Database, to track the acquisition and implementation patterns of U.S. hospitals — offering a detailed look at the annual inventory and buying plans for more than 100 different health IT applications.

Titled “Hospital Tax Status and HIT Buying Patterns,” it finds that buying behaviors do indeed vary according to whether a hospital is governmental, not-for-profit or investor-owned.

“Uncovering the healthcare information technology buying patterns of U.S. hospitals is of value to an array of HIT stakeholders,” writes Lorren Pettit, vice president of market research at HIMSS. “Yet, aggregated buying patterns have limited applicability. U.S. hospitals are too varied to allow for the imputation of aggregate level findings to sub-segments of the market.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a providers’ tax status can make for significant differences in buying behaviors “because managerial decisions (to include HIT purchases) can be influenced by the organizational priority placed on profitability,” Pettit writes.

By surveying hospitals from each of the three categories and isolating all records where an organization reported an application was “to be replaced,” “contracted, not yet installed” or “installation in process,” HIMSS found that  purchasing patterns varied widely.

While governmental and not-for-profit hospitals seemed to have similar purchasing strategies, for-profit entities were “notably different,” according to Pettit.

“More specifically, the pattern assumed by for-profit entities appears to have experienced a remarkable shift in 2012,” he wrote, suggesting that such investor-owned entities “have a different equation” when it comes to calculating the value of health IT.

While not-for-profit hospitals were proportionately more active in buying and implementing health IT — with nearly one-third purchasing four or more applications during each of the past four years — for-profit providers plowed a different path.

While the number of hospitals “actively involved in buying at least one HIT solution steadily grew during the past four years,” the percentage of them acquiring multiple solutions (four or more applications) “dramatically decreased in 2012,” according to the report. That sudden shift might suggest a “disruptive event” was introduced into into the market around that time — the Affordable Care Act, most likely — which had a disproportionate effect on those organizations.

Access the Dorenfest/HIMSS Analytics study here.

Also available the Dorenfest website The 2013 Annual Report of the U.S. Hospital IT Market, which examines technology use at nearly 4,300 U.S. hospitals. Topics examined in the report include capital and operating budgets, as well as the use of key financial and clinical technologies in place at these hospitals.

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