KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Hospitals, Docs Adopting Health IT Ahead Of Schedule

Clinics and hospitals are increasingly switching to electronic medical records as a federal push to spread the technology sweeps across the nation.

The San Mateo County Times/(San Jose) Mercury News: "The new Mills-Peninsula Medical Center, which will replace Peninsula Medical Center in December, will have plenty of room for patients but not for paper records." The new center will be wired and equipped with enough computers to rely on the center's year-old digital record system. "It's part of a trend in medicine to make paper charts a thing of the past." That trend is expected to gain steam because "with the Obama administration's push to put records on computers, high-tech funding is giving hospitals extra incentive to do so" (Woudenberg, 8/2).

The (McAllen, Texas) Monitor: "Dr. Juan Salazar used to scribble onto a notepad or dictate into a recorder what he wanted to report from his patient's visits. The information the physician gathered eventually ended up in his chart room, where his staff files the paper medical records that are sometimes as thick as books." Now, Salazar is shifting towards electronic records in a move he says will provide greater safety and lower costs to patients (James, 8/3).

Meanwhile, a new piece of bipartisan legislation in Congress, the Electronic Health Record Incentives for Multi-Campus Hospitals Act, could make it easier for some hospitals to cash in on the federal payments and adopt health IT. Modern Healthcare reports that under the bill, "hospitals that have more than one campus sharing a single Medicare provider number [would be able to] receive a larger share of the subsidies for health information technology provided for in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009." That's because the bill overrides regulation by the Medicare agency that would treat multicampus hospitals as a single facility (Robeznieks, 8/2).

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