KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Hospitals Ill-Prepared For Move To Electronic Medical Records, Survey Finds

Government requirements for hospitals to get cash rewards for the "meaningful use" of electronic medical records may be too stringent for many facilities, which lack the tech savvy to meet them, according to Mass Device, a New England-based medical device business newsletter. "A small fraction of U.S. hospitals reported using electronic medical records software last year and even fewer would have met new requirements for 'meaningful use' of the systems in 2009, according to an American Hospital Assn. survey." The AHA polled 3,100 members. Only 12 percent used electronic records. Only 2 percent would have met the requirements drafted by the federal government to win the payments (8/30).

The study, which was published online by the journal Health Affairs, "was conducted between March and November of last year, which meant it couldn't measure adoption of the exact elements that must be in place to qualify for a chunk of $27 billion in incentives starting next year," according to The Wall Street Journal. "Those so-called 'meaningful use; requirements weren't finalized by the government until this summer" (Hobson, 8/27).

The Wenatchee (Wash.) World: More hospitals, however, are preparing to purchase electronic records because of the federal incentives. "The Quincy Valley Medical Center [in Washington state] is moving forward with its planned purchase and installation of an electronic medical records system." A hospital executive said, "if we get it in early, there's financial incentives. We could get 100 percent reimbursement" (Flanagan, 8/30).

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