Bruce Henderson, PwC's national leader of Electronic Health Records and Health Information Exchange Practice, said what surprised him about the survey results was the "overwhelming concern" across the industry. "I think that even among the more prepared institutions that have adopted clinical record systems already there's still a fair amount of concern about being able to ... be in compliance with those regulations within the time period in which the first draft stipulated," he said.
The 120 CIOs, all members of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), are also worried about meeting later-stage requirements within the specified time frames.
The meaningful use standards are expected to require the use of software to ensure best practices for medical care are followed; patients' personal health records are populated with updated health information; and that health outcomes are improved through data-sharing outside their own organizations, such as with insurers, patients and other providers.
"The first draft went a long way in setting out the principles and the expectations and the intent of the regulations. I think what they need to finish is to add clarity, to add some level of detail around security and privacy - there was a lot of ambiguity there - and then the industry will, to the best of its ability, move in that direction," Henderson said.
The CIOs interviewed by PwC also said the promise of federal reimbursements have sped up EHR adoption, but the existing infrastructure to support their meaningful use over a nationwide health information network is insufficient.
"Health care organizations are building high-performance race cars to travel back country roads," said Daniel Garrett, leader of the health information technology practice for PwC. "Furthermore, we found many health care providers are mired in the complexity of incentive-rule criteria and may not be working toward longer-term goals for meaningful EHR usage."
Garrett said government leaders and health organizations need to consider the ultimate goal of better care and patient safety -- delivered more efficiently -- as they work to finalize and meet guidelines for meaningful use.
Hospital CIOs also indicated that they are behind the curve because there has yet to be a final ruling on meaningful use implementation guidelines.
The survey also found that 63% of the CIOs surveyed believe their organizations are either already working with physicians around meaningful use issues or plan to do so within six months. Eighty-eight percent indicated that meaningful use is somewhat or very likely to increase the involvement of non-administrative physicians in quality initiatives.