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Healthcare information security tops purchasing survey

Amid widespread worry about cybersecurity, healthcare information security leads the priorities of health IT professionals who play a role in purchasing for their organizations, according to a TechTarget survey.

Buyers are still interested in business intelligence and analytics, cloud-based technologies, mobility and other items, but interest in healthcare information security systems far outweighed other priorities in the survey of 181 health IT professionals.

TechTarget, publisher of SearchHealthIT, did the 2016 Purchasing Intentions survey in February in conjunction with the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives.

In this HIT Squad video episode, SearchHealthIT reporters Shaun Sutner and Kristen Lee present and analyze the results of the survey, focusing on the top five buying priorities:

  1. Security, which 53% of respondents cited as their top planned investment
  2. Business intelligence analytics (37.9%)
  3. Compliance (34.9%)
  4. EHR software (33.7%)
  5. Mobile health (32.5%)

Sutner says in the video that the preoccupation with healthcare information security comes in the wake of widespread ransomware and cybersecurity attacks on healthcare systems and also as federal officials ramp up the HIPAA audit program.

As for EHRs, Sutner says providers need to add and upgrade functionality such as revenue cycle management to help navigate the shift toward value-based reimbursement and clinical documentation for merit-based incentive programs.

Mobility in healthcare is also emerging as a major factor because of mobile devices' capabilities to run patient-friendly health apps and help clinicians use health data more flexibly, according to experts Sutner interviewed about the survey.

According to the survey, purchasing interest in mobile devices outweighed plans to buy laptops, and health IT buyers were also interested in mobile device management and secure messaging systems for the profusion of mobile devices.

Smartphones were the planned investment of choice for 48.7%, nearly the total of tablets (28.3%) and laptops (23.9%) combined.

Check out SearchHealthIT's infographic on TechTarget's 2016 purchasing intentions survey, which visually breaks down the healthcare-specific findings of the survey beyond healthcare information security.

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Transcript - Healthcare information security tops purchasing survey

Kristen Lee: Hi, I'm Kristen Lee, news writer for SearchHealthIT.

Shaun Sutner: And I'm Shaun Sutner, news and feature writer for SearchHealthIT.

Lee: And welcome to a special video edition of the HIT Squad. Today, we're going to be talking about a TechTarget survey about Health IT Purchasing Intentions for 2016. TechTarget is SearchHealthIT's publisher, and we did this survey in conjunction with the College of Health Information Management Executives, also known as CHIME.

The top five distinct technology areas that we found in our survey were security, business intelligence and analytics, compliance, electronic health records and mobile, at number six was cloud technologies. So, first, we're going to be looking into security. The majority of our respondents, about 82%, said that they will be investing in security in 2016. Shaun, you wrote a story on this survey, right?

Sutner: I did.

Lee: So you talked with health IT experts, you showed them this survey. What did they say, and what's ... your analysis?

Sutner: Well, all of them agreed with the main findings of this survey. The health IT world is in a bit of a panic about cybersecurity, and it's kind of pushing other investments back a little bit on the wish list -- like analytics, which would normally be higher probably, has been pushed back just a little bit.

Lee: And speaking of analytics, we found that the majority of our respondents, about 77.8%, said that they plan to invest in business intelligence and analytics in 2016.

Sutner: Their feelings about analytics are that analytics, as ever, are really critical in the ongoing shift to value-based reimbursement, using high-level analytics and often delivered on a cloud. We also had a finding that a lot of the providers are finally moving toward the cloud. And it's really an essential wish list item, but with cybersecurity so critical, it kind of pushed analytics and BI a little bit back, where a couple of years ago that was the top item.

Lee: Right, great. Okay. Let's move on to compliance. About 73.5% of respondents said that they are going to invest in compliance in 2016.

Sutner: So the health IT people I interviewed were entirely not surprised by this finding being that there's been a lot of publicity around the HIPAA audits, (which have just launched) and the HIPAA audits are done by the Office of Civil Rights of HHS, are not only going to include providers of healthcare but also their business associates like billing companies and other people they do business with, and they will be audited as well. So, that's why you see HIPAA audit and readiness and preparation is the top thing for providers. But compliance monitoring, a lot of that is a technology approach, not just training and getting ready. But using technologies to monitor how well health data is being safeguarded by business associates, who are also going to be audited by the Office of Civil Rights.

Lee: And then we come to EHR technologies, which are still a buying priority for many of our respondents. About 60% said that they would be investing in EHR software in 2016.

Sutner: Well, the key thing here that they pointed out is that EHRs are still the focal point of the health IT ecosystem; you can have cybersecurity, protect what's inside that ecosystem, but you also need to upgrade the modules inside those systems. So, the big providers and the practices have installed, already their Epic system or Cerner or Athenahealth or eClinicalWorks. But ... they have new billing revenue cycle management modules to better ... navigate the shift toward value-based reimbursement. And then you have a big investment in clinical documentation because of the move to merit-based reimbursement and to really get metrics on how well doctors are delivering care and producing better health outcomes.

Lee: Last but certainly not least, we come to mobile. The majority of our respondents, about 87%, said that they will increase their investments in mobile in 2016. Another interesting note that we found was that smartphones kind of came out on top of everything, so even tablets, laptops and notebooks fell under smartphones.

Sutner: The experts who were really bullish on mobile, they saw it as indicative of a shift away from bricks-and-mortar in healthcare. And so mobility not only allows patients to have easier access to their healthcare on their mobile devices, but also clinicians to have ... they can call up people's charts on their tablets or smartphones, and you see laptops and desktops really moving back in importance and becoming extinct, more or less.

And you also see telemedicine and mobile applications as being the top driver of mobile, because telemedicine, in the long run, a lot of people think is cheaper than the heavy overhead of the bricks-and-mortar hospital. Secure text messaging was really critical, because especially with HIPAA finally having some real enforcement to it, that clinicians cannot be sending insecure texts with patient health data back and forth to each other. It has to be locked down. And finally, mobile device management allows health IT administrators to coordinate these huge fleets of BYOD devices and make sure that they're secure, that they're working together and just to manage them, so they don't get all lost and stolen. 

Lee: Great. Well, thanks for tuning into this special video edition of the HIT Squad. Be sure to tune in at for more HIT Squad podcasts and articles. 

Sutner: Bye, everybody.

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