A new survey of senior information technology executives at some of the largest U.S. health systems finds that analytics are their highest IT priority.

The survey of members of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), representing the opinions of nearly 70 healthcare IT executives including CIOs, was conducted by analytics vendor Health Catalyst and hosted by CHIME.

Fifty-four percent of respondents rated analytics as their top IT priority, followed by investments in population health initiatives (42 percent), ICD-10 (30 percent), accountable care/shared risk initiatives (29 percent), and consolidation-related investments (11 percent). In addition, more than 90 percent of respondents said analytics will be “extremely important” or “very important” to their organization within the next 1-3 years.

When asked to rank the biggest obstacles to their adoption of analytics, respondents ranked a lack of analytics expertise and resources to adopt the technology highest. According to the survey, the next biggest obstacle to analytics adoption was the large number of other IT priorities facing healthcare IT executives.

Among the healthcare trends accelerating the adoption of analytics, executives ranked population health management highest at 84 percent, followed by quality improvement (79 percent) and accountable care (68 percent). Other important initiatives ranked by respondents included the need for cost reduction (63 percent), for a “single version of the truth” (59 percent), for better reporting (54 percent), and for research (17 percent).

“CHIME members serve in the front lines of a healthcare industry confronted by the most significant challenges in its history, and their focus on analytics as a key solution to those challenges is confirmation of the technology’s importance,” said Dan Burton, CEO of Health Catalyst. “In fact, analytics is a prerequisite for all of the major initiatives currently underway to address value-based care. Once organizations have all of their data warehoused and accessible, analytics is the core tool to help them make sense of the data and put it to work.”

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