Ponemon Institute Study Finds that Outdated Communication Technologies Cost U.S. Hospitals More than $8.3 Billion Annually

Research Highlights How Inefficient Communication Systems Waste Clinicians’ Time, Limit Patient Interaction and Lengthen Discharge Times

Lexington, Mass. and Traverse City, Mich.—May 7, 2013—A new study released today by the Ponemon Institute finds that the use of pagers and other outdated communication technologies decreases clinician productivity and increases patient discharge times, collectively costing U.S. hospitals more than $8.3 billion annually. Sponsored by Imprivata®, a leading global provider of healthcare IT security solutions, the survey of 577 healthcare professionals reveals that doctors, nurses and other caregivers waste more than 45 minutes per day as a result of inefficient communication systems, costing the average U.S. hospital nearly $1 million annually. In addition, similar communications deficiencies increase patient discharge times, costing the average hospital more than $550,000 per year in lost revenue. The Ponemon Institute estimates that these findings translate into an industry-wide loss of more than $8.3 billion annually.

“Our research uncovered several sobering realities about the negative impacts of antiquated communication technologies and security policies on a hospital’s bottom line as well as on doctor productivity,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. “For instance, doctors say they spend only about 45 percent of their time actually interfacing with patients, in large part because they must deal with inefficient communications technologies such as pagers. Outmoded technologies also contribute significantly to increased patient discharge times, which average about 101 minutes. This time could be cut significantly through the use of smartphones and secure text messaging, but these technologies remain, for the most part, unused in hospitals because of the restrictive nature of security policies and challenging regulatory compliance requirements.”

Titled “The Economic & Productivity Impact of IT Security on Healthcare,” the Ponemon report aims to determine the industry-wide economic impact and productivity inefficiencies created by the transition from paper-based to electronic medical records. While the implementation of new technologies is designed to improve efficiency and enhance patient care, it also has the potential to introduce risk, so IT departments must ensure that these new systems meet security and regulatory compliance requirements to keep private information protected.  As highlighted by the key findings of this report, striking this balance has proven to be a challenge for the healthcare industry:

  • According to the study, clinicians waste an average of more than 45 minutes each day due to the use of outdated communication technologies. The primary reason is the inefficiency of pagers (as cited by 52 percent of survey respondents), followed by the lack of Wi-Fi availability (39 percent), the inadequacy of email (38 percent) and the inability to use text messaging (36 percent).
  • The Ponemon Institute estimates that this waste of clinicians’ time costs each U.S. hospital more than $900,000 per year, and based on the number of registered hospitals in the U.S., this translates to an industry-wide loss of more than $5.1 billion annually.
  • Similar deficiencies in communications lengthen patient discharge time, which currently averages about 101 minutes. Sixty-five percent of survey respondents believe that secure text messaging can cut discharge time by 50 minutes, which the Ponemon Institute estimates could generate more than $3.1 billion in revenue per year across the healthcare industry
  • Clinicians estimate that 45 percent of their time—or about 27 minutes for every hour—is spent with patients while the remaining 55 percent is spent communicating and collaborating with other clinicians, or using electronic medical records and other clinical IT systems.
  • Fifty-one percent of survey respondents say HIPAA compliance requirements can be a barrier to providing effective patient care. Specifically, HIPAA reduces time available for patient care (according to 85 percent of respondents), makes access to electronic patient information difficult (79 percent), restricts the use of electronic communications (56 percent) and restricts the use of personal mobile devices (54 percent).

“The research highlights the need for updated communication technologies across the healthcare industry to improve efficiency and allow doctors and other caregivers to spend more of their time focused on the delivery of quality patient care,” said Omar Hussain, president and CEO of Imprivata. “While healthcare organizations seem to recognize the challenges, there is still a significant amount of work to be done, especially in replacing pagers and other inefficient communication systems with more modern technologies such as smartphones and secure text messaging. We believe research like this provides valuable insight as healthcare organizations shape their healthcare IT, communications and security strategies.”

Imprivata will host a webinar featuring Dr. Larry Ponemon to discuss the findings and implications of the “Economic & Productivity Impact of IT Security Regulations on Patient Care” study on Thursday, June 30 at 12 p.m. EDT.

About the Ponemon Institute

The Ponemon Institute is dedicated to advancing responsible information and privacy management practices in business and government. To achieve this objective, the Institute conducts independent research, educates leaders from the private and public sectors, and verifies the privacy and data protection practices of organizations in a variety of industries.

About Imprivata

Imprivata, the leader in healthcare IT security, enables secure access and collaboration for two million healthcare users worldwide. As the #1 independent provider of single sign-on and access management solutions for healthcare and other regulated industries, Imprivata OneSign® Single Sign-On is exclusively endorsed by the American Hospital Association (AHA) and recognized by Gartner and KLAS. Imprivata Cortext® is the leading free HIPAA compliant text messaging solution for healthcare. Headquartered in Lexington, Massachusetts, Imprivata serves 1,300 hospitals in partnership with over 200 EMR and technology infrastructure vendors around the world. For more information, please visit www.imprivata.com.

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