Seventy-two percent of respondents to a recent HIMSS survey expect their information technology operating budgets to increase, compared with 55 percent responding to the same survey a year ago.

Forthcoming meaningful use incentives and an improving economy are contributing factors for the increase, according to results of the 21st Annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Leadership Survey. The 398 respondents to the Web-based survey in December and January represent nearly 270 health care organizations and nearly 700 hospitals. Eighty five percent of respondents were senior I.T. executives and 66 percent were corporate CIOs. Other survey results include:

For 42 percent of respondents, the top priority during the next two years is meeting meaningful use criteria. This includes, in many cases, ensuring a fully functional electronic medical record and installing a computerized provider order entry system.

Thirty-eight percent believe government activities are the business issue that will have the biggest impact on the industry during the next two years. Only six percent of survey respondents felt that way a year earlier.

Two-thirds of respondents expect to increase their I.T. staff, consistent with results from the 2008 survey after dropping below 50 percent last year.

Thirty-four percent of respondents report internal breaches of security as their top security concern, with 23 percent acknowledging their organization had a security breach in the past year.

Forty-eight percent have a fully operational EMR in at least one facility, up from 41 percent a year earlier. Twenty-two percent report a fully operational EMR throughout their enterprise, compared with 17 percent last year.

Forty-three percent of responding organizations participate in a health information exchange.

--Joseph Goedert

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