Businesses Prepare For Health IT Push; AMA Worries Small Practices Might Struggle
In expectation of expansive new federal spending on electronic medical records, technology firms are expanding their health care businesses, Politico reports. "Now that the Obama administration has finalized the rules by which health care providers can be reimbursed for the systems with billions in stimulus dollars, they're making serious plans to transition from paper to digital records - an expensive process that information technology and telecom companies are eager to help with." Among them: Dell, IBM, Siemens, Google, Microsoft, Intel, Verizon and AT&T. One strategy Intel is using to grow business is sending representatives to hospitals to train workers in using electronic records (Hart, 7/22).
Meanwhile, the leading lobbying group for doctors weighed in yesterday on those finalized rules, The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog reports. In a memo to its board of trustees, the group's CEO, Michael Maves, says that while "the Administration did move on several points, the [AMA] believes that it will be challenging for many physicians to participate successfully in the program. This will be especially true for those physicians in solo or small group practices who have not previously utilized an [electronic medical record]" (Hobson, 7/21).
But, hospitals and other medical providers are already ramping up, The Huffington Post Investigative Fund/Minn Post reports. "Fresh from the news that it was awarded $12 million in federal stimulus money, a consortium of southeast Minnesota health care providers and agencies is ramping up to launch an ambitious initiative to use digital patient records to drive better care. Spearheaded by the Mayo Clinic, the group is one of 15 selected nationwide for the Beacon Communities pilot program, an Obama administration initiative to simultaneously reduce health care costs and improve patient outcomes" (Schwartz and Schulte, 7/21).