The Federal Health IT Push Remains In The Spotlight
Doctors across the country including Tahsina Atiquzzaman in Kissimmee, Fla., are "shredding paper charts and ushering in digital records as part of the health care milestones announced last month by the federal government," The Orlando Sentinel/Modesto Bee reports. "The guidelines require doctors to trade paper and pen for mouse and keyboard. They must use computerized records in a meaningful way: to order prescriptions electronically or check a patient's symptoms, diagnoses and medication history. Advocates say 'meaningful-use criteria' not only will save lives but time and money" (Cevallos, 8/12).
The Fiscal Times, however, has republished a newsletter item by the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University touting new research that questions the claim that health IT can help save money. "It is a widely accepted assumption in the healthcare and information technology industries that electronic medical records in hospitals help reduce costs and enhance the quality of patient care. But new research on the subject by three W. P. Carey information systems professors contradicts that conventional IT wisdom. And that has surprised and disappointed many in the healthcare and IT fields, including the researchers themselves" (8/12).
Some players in the market appear more supportive, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Robert W. Baird & Co.'s private equity division and Brookfield-based Hammes Co., which develops health care facilities, are looking to invest together in young companies involved in health care information technology, medical billing and related areas, said Aaron R. Lillybridge, a principal with Baird Capital Partners." Lillybridge recently "discussed obstacles to more efficient, less costly health care, agreeing that health care providers in the U.S. are 10 to 15 years behind corporate America in using software and related systems to run their businesses" (Gallagher, 8/12).
Meanwhile, "[t]he Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is readying a set electronic accounting and processing tools that will help authenticate, track and manage payments to health care providers participating in the federal meaningful use financial incentive program," Government Health IT, a publication run by the industry group Health Information and Management Systems Society, reports. "To support its efforts, CMS recently awarded a $5.5 million five-year contract to National Government Services Inc., a large Medicare contractor in 20 states, to assist in preparing and processing incentive payments beginning in fiscal 2011" (Mosquera, 8/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.