Nursing Technology ...What Merrill Lynch’s 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 of Cerner 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 nation’s healthcare industry were interviewed to help identify industry trends and to gain insight from information technology (IT) product and service purchasers. Here’s 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 “necessary”—and if nursing is not included in clinical systems, it won’t 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, they’re 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 organization’s 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 nursing’s 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 what’s planned for 2001 and who is doing the planning. Get involved.

CIOs say: HIPAA rules. Hospital executives feel HIPAA’s hot breath at the nape of their necks, but most still don’t know how big it is, when it’s going to catch up to healthcare and what it’s going to do when it does. Most CIOs—78 percent—think the HIPAA can be handled with software/system modifications rather than outright new software purchases.

Why should nurses care? When HIPAA hits, all systems—nursing systems included—must be compliant. Nursing shouldn’t rely on IT vendors and IS to ensure compliance, but rather examine HIPAA’s unique and specific requirements to ensure that systems and processes not only work, but work well—specifically, on the nursing units as that is nursing’s primary area of concern/responsibility.

What nurses can do: Find out what HIPAA requirements are coming, and when (this helps set priorities). Find out—–ask!—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 systems—administrative 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 changes.


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.

© 2001 PDA cortex. All Rights Reserved
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