New research suggests that the regulatory demands imposed by the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) are likely having a negative impact on health IT professionals. As many as 60 percent of polled healthcare IT professionals feel that government regulations are leading to the decline of their industry.

According to Peak 10, a provider of cloud computing, data center and other information technology (IT) infrastructure solutions, the majority (94 percent) said that complying with the imposed regulations influence their current IT strategy and decision-making.

"With rare exception, respondents claimed they lack the expertise necessary to navigate the maze of government regulations," the survey's authors wrote.

These were among the findings of The Peak 10 National IT Trends in Healthcare Study, which collected and reported on data gathered from C-level executives and IT professionals at 149 U.S. healthcare organizations. The professionals were asked to provide their insights into industry challenges they felt were most pressing, as well as the future state of the healthcare industry.

Healthcare remains in a bind from an IT perspective and is under "tremendous pressure" to make nonrevenue-producing investments and to divert scarce resources away from innovation and new application development.

According to the study, cost-cutting and containment also are cause for concern for healthcare organizations and are "exacerbated by the fact that many IT departments are already understaffed and underfunded."

The survey indicates that technology is a critical part of their strategy for business success and patient satisfaction. Healthcare organizations are said to be feeling the strain of implementing electronic health record systems and often have too few skilled resources to address their areas of concern as government regulatory compliance mandates have "already burdened their strained IT assets."

"At the same time, most must also ensure regulatory compliance while guaranteeing high reliability and strong security. Many are looking to third-party suppliers for assistance," the authors noted.

Other findings from the study include:

  • Healthcare companies are "cautiously, but steadily" moving to the cloud and nonmission-critical workloads (administrative/corporate systems). Cloud adoption is mainly driven by regulatory mandates around electronic health records (EHRs).
  • 77 percent of hospitals, biotech firms, pharmaceuticals and payers are seeking partners and assistance to help them maintain high reliability, while 70 percent of respondents said they need partners to assist with security and data privacy concerns.
  • Payers' budgets are under the most pressure: 59 percent indicated that their IT budgets would either decline (25 percent) or remain static (38 percent) over the next two years; 34 percent said their IT budgets would increase.

The National IT Trends in Healthcare study was conducted across a wide range of time, from March through December 2014. An online survey was sent to more than 15,000 healthcare IT decision-makers across the U.S. with 149 respondents completing the survey. A follow-up series of in-depth, one-on-one qualitative phone interviews was conducted with a dozen respondents.