As final Meaningful Use guidelines are released, government incentives spur healthcare providers to focus on electronic records and data management, according to a survey by Embarcadero Technologies.

SAN FRANCISCO - July 19, 2010 - Determined not to miss out on investment opportunities presented by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), healthcare companies are implementing Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems at a brisk pace. A new survey conducted by Embarcadero Technologies shows EHR implementations are the top priority among healthcare IT professionals, with 85% indicating that they are either in the midst of an EHR project or plan to start one within the next 18 months.

The ARRA's Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act is making $19 billion available to healthcare providers over the next six years to organize health data through a new set of standards, services and policies that enable the secure exchange of health information. But, they must first meet a set of HITECH Act criteria known as Meaningful Use (MU) to participate in the program.

While the initial criteria proposed last year was criticized by some healthcare organizations for being too strict, last week the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) decreased the number of requirements when releasing the final set of guidelines. Due to this increase in flexibility, many healthcare IT experts are now predicting that even more healthcare providers will move to take advantage of the stimulus funds. However, few were on the sidelines even before the MU requirements bar was lowered. Nearly 60% of those surveyed in March and April said they are already in the process of implementing an EHR system and 25% are planning to within the next six to 18 months.

It seems those in the healthcare field have taken time to brush up on MU and understand the EHR certification process. When asked about their level of understanding, 74% said the existing information on MU and certification was adequate and their technical implementation questions have been answered. Two thirds agreed that their IT staff was ready to implement EHR systems that would comply with meaningful use and the same number (66%) also said they are planning to use database management tools to better understand the data and applications to implement EHRs and MU.

When respondents were asked to identify their top three healthcare IT priorities, data management projects reigned supreme. EHR implementation received 61% of the mentions for first place, healthcare data warehouses came in second with 52%, followed by health information exchanges with 47%.

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All of these projects require very high levels of data quality and data integration and impact the performance of the database systems supporting these types of applications, which helps explain why 46% of respondents indicated that database performance is their biggest data management challenge. Data integration came in a close second with 45% and data quality ranked third with 36% of the votes.

Other insights from the survey include:

  • When asked which EHR system provider their company would be using, the responses were a mixed bag: 13.2% cited Epic, 11.3% named Cerner, 7.5% said Siemens, and other vendors such as NextGen, McKesson and Meditech received fewer mentions
  • Creating models to the HL7 standard and ICD-10 coding standards were also called out as important healthcare IT initiatives
  • Nearly half indicated interoperability with other systems and data integration as the top two major IT challenges of EHR system implementations

The Healthcare Data Management Survey was conducted throughout the months of March and April 2010. One hundred and eleven healthcare IT professionals participated. A copy of the entire survey results and additional resources on Meaningful Use and the impact on IT are available online: http://www.embarcadero.com/reports/healthcare-data-management-survey.

About Embarcadero Technologies
Embarcadero Technologies, Inc. is a leading provider of award-winning tools for application developers and database professionals so they can design systems right, build them faster and run them better, regardless of their platform or programming language. Ninety of the Fortune 100 and an active community of more than three million users worldwide rely on Embarcadero products to increase productivity, reduce costs, simplify change management and compliance and accelerate innovation. Founded in 1993, Embarcadero is headquartered in San Francisco, with offices located around the world. Embarcadero is online at www.embarcadero.com.

Media Contact:
Rebecca Scanlan
Chase Communications
303.733.0328
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