KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Health Industry Faces Shortage Of IT Professionals

In addition, a regulation permitting hospitals to donate medical records software to doctors is scheduled to expire.

The Wall Street Journal: Talent Deficit, Poaching Weigh On Healthcare IT
Healthcare CIOs are finding it hard to attract and retain IT professionals to operate hospital computer systems. They blame the talent crunch on several factors, including limited supply of qualified workers, poaching by rivals, rising levels of compensation, and legacy computer systems that IT staff don't like to use. A shortage of workers is never a good thing, but in this case, it's particularly worrisome. Without a proper IT staff, hospitals may have a more difficult time qualifying for federal incentives that are paid to hospitals that can demonstrate that better management of healthcare information is leading to an improvement in patient outcomes. The incentives—which total billions of dollars—are being distributed by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (Boulton, 3/28).

Modern Healthcare: Lawmakers Urges Extension Of Safe Harbor For EHRs
Normally, it would be illegal for a hospital to donate electronic medical-record software to an independent doctor who refers patients for treatment at the hospital. But federal officials created special rules to allow such transfers as a way to encourage healthcare providers to adopt the costly systems. Those exceptions to the Stark law and the anti-kickback statute are due to expire at the end of the year, and observers say little is being done to renew them, even though federal subsidies for EHR systems are slated to continue via Medicare until 2016 (Carslon, 3/28).

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