Physicians Wait For Health IT Guidelines, Officials Want ‘Every Doctor’s Office’ Online
Physicians are still waiting for clear cut rules for how they must use health information technology in order to be eligible for economic stimulus-funded incentives, American Medical News, a publication of the American Medical Association, reports. The publication notes that (the $2 billion) "incentive money will directly address the use of EMRs, not the purchase of the systems." The sole, ambiguous requirement that doctors must make "meaningful use" of the technology will be defined by year's end. But, industry consultants say doctors can and should get a head start on the governments expectation that they'll be able to adopt the technology by 2011. Practices can expect requirements to include e-prescribing, certification through a government-approved certifying body, quality reporting, and the ability of one system to exchange information with others (Dolan, 6/15).
Meanwhile, David Blumenthal, the national coordinator for health information technology, told the Wall Street Journal in a published interview, "There's a good chance that the current funding will be enough to equip every doctor's office in America with electronic record keeping." He said there were "disputes" about how much savings the technology would yield, and that he "expects" incentive checks to start going out by the 2011 deadline. In defining meaningful use, Blumenthal said his office would focus "on performance, rather than any specific technology... We don't care how you accomplish critical tasks, so long as you do so with electronic technology" (6/15).
In a separate news brief, American Medical News reports, IVANS, a Stamford, Connecticut-based health services and insurance vendor, had found in a survey that "more than half of health care entities said they believe the billions of dollars in the most recent federal economic stimulus package earmarked for health information technology will have little success in encouraging electronic health records adoption" (6/15).