A May survey of 125 hospital chief financial officers and revenue cycle leaders finds technology budgets are increasing, but hospitals continue to struggle to fully reap benefits from their IT systems.

Hospitals are particularly seeking to find benefits or resolve problems in such areas as business intelligence, electronic health record workflows, revenue integrity, coding and clinical documentation.

The Healthcare Financial Management Association and revenue cycle consultancy Navigant conducted the survey.

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Three-quarters of respondents said their information technology budgets are growing, with one-third reporting increases of five percent or more.

Still, half of respondents say their organizations can’t keep up with upgrades to their EHRs or are failing to maximize functional, workflow and reporting improvements. Some 41 percent don’t have a way to track the effectiveness of tech enhancements, and 21 percent are attempting to identify cost reductions through vendor consolidation.

The survey found that 22 percent of respondents highlighted revenue integrity efforts during the next year as a core focus; another 44 percent have established such programs and are seeing benefits. These benefits include increased net collections (68 percent), charge capture (61 percent) and reduced compliance risks (61 percent).

Other results from the survey include:

• Almost all respondents have an inpatient clinical documentation improvement initiative, yet only one-third have an outpatient initiative.

• Nearly all respondents are concerned about an increase in consumer self-pay. Among them, respondents from rural providers are twice as likely to believe the impact will be significant, compared those from urban respondents.

• Providers are offering more consumer-friendly ways to enable patient payment, with 93 percent having an online portal and 63 percent offering cost-of-care estimation tools.

• Only 14 percent have advanced modeling tools to predict patient propensity to pay.

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