Technology ...What Merrill Lynchs CIO Survey Says
What it Means for Nursing
By Leah Curtin, RN, ScD(h), FAAN, Editor-in-Chief of CurtinCalls,
an irreverent, fact-filled scan of nursing and healthcare,
Cincinnati, OH; and Roy Simpson, RN, FNAP, FAAN, vice president
Corp., Kansas City, MO.
The financial management/advisory giant, Merrill Lynch, recently
released the results of its sixth survey in a planned series.
Fifty chief information officers (CIOs) from the nations
healthcare industry were interviewed to help identify industry
trends and to gain insight from information technology (IT)
product and service purchasers. Heres what CIOs are
saying and why nurses should be listening:
CIOs say: If the organization buys any new IT in 2001, it
will probably be clinical software from a major vendor. Only
31 percent of the CIOs report increases in their 2001 overall
IT budgets, even though HIPAA begins implementation this year.
About 38 percent report no change in their budget, while 31
percent actually expect it to decline.
Why should nurses care: This means IT priorities must change to
reflect the placing of resources toward the absolutely necessary,
rather than the ideal or the best. It should go without
saying that people will differ in their opinions about the necessaryand
if nursing is not included in clinical systems, it wont just
hurt nursing, but ultimately the patient and the whole organization.
However, few outside of nursing believe this, so the job of persuasive
input rests directly on nursing informaticists.
Forty-four percent of CIOs expect to increase their spending on
software in 2001, and nearly 50 percent expect the dollars to go
for additional clinical software. However, because of the cost constraints,
theyre moving from a best-of-breed approach toward
software procurement. Ninety percent are limiting the number of
vendors they work with in an effort to standardize and improve inter-operability.
Why nursing should care: Because any clinical software decision
ultimately affects nursing, nursing should have input into that
decision. If nursing is not represented on the organizations
system selection committee, it should be. Despite budget restrictions,
software will be purchased. Far too often it ends up being an expensive
waste if the software does not lend itself to nursings clinical
applications as well as medicine, pharmacy, lab and so forth.
What nursing can do: Talk to the CIO, the director of IS or the
CEO to find out whats planned for 2001 and who is doing the
planning. Get involved.
CIOs say: HIPAA rules. Hospital executives feel HIPAAs hot
breath at the nape of their necks, but most still dont know
how big it is, when its going to catch up to healthcare and
what its going to do when it does. Most CIOs78 percentthink
the HIPAA can be handled with software/system modifications rather
than outright new software purchases.
Why should nurses care? When HIPAA hits, all systemsnursing
systems includedmust be compliant. Nursing shouldnt
rely on IT vendors and IS to ensure compliance, but rather examine
HIPAAs unique and specific requirements to ensure that systems
and processes not only work, but work wellspecifically, on
the nursing units as that is nursings primary area of concern/responsibility.
What nurses can do: Find out what HIPAA requirements are coming,
and when (this helps set priorities). Find outask!how
and/or if your systems satisfy those requirements and what is required
to get them compliant if they do not. Make sure that you understand
the full impact of all modifications to all systemsadministrative
and financial systems as well as nursing/clinical care systems.
Remember: Financial and administrative system changes often have
significant impact on nursing, a fact often overlooked by those
who are not involved in the day-to-day use/implementation of IT
Editors Note: This article by Leah Curtin was originality published
in the May 2001 issue of Health
Management Technology and is the copyright of Nelson Publishing,
Inc. Nelson Publishing and Leah Curtin have kindly given us permission
to reprint this article here.