Implementation of Simulus Bill Health IT Provisions Slow To Take Shape
The stimulus bill passed by Congress in February act will channel billions of dollars to physicians and hospitals that "have successfully moved into the digital age. The goal: Encourage so many providers to come online that it becomes possible to develop a secure, national network for sharing patients' medical information," the (New Jersey) Star-Ledger reports. But while Congress instructed the administration to implement the technology quickly hopefully bringing as many as 70% of hospitals online by the time the funding runs out legislators have not given clear instructions about what technology is eligible for the funding, leaving a small administration office and a pair of federal advisory boards to sort it out this year.
"And therein lies the catch for health providers: The funding will be available for just a few years, starting in 2011 -- and the largest portions will go to doctors and hospitals that qualify early," the Star-Ledger reports. "With no clear guidelines and the clock starting to tick, some New Jersey health care providers worry they won't be ready to qualify for the most funding."
Leaving behind providers would do a significant blow to the government's own goals for health information technology, which include an interconnected national network that officials say could aid researchers and give early warning of public health crises, as well as share health information more fluidly between providers. "You've got to have the dots filled before you connect them," Joseph Carr, the chief information officer of the New Jersey Hospital Association, told the Star-Ledger (Rothman, 5/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.