Healthcare Technology Featured Article

June 09, 2010

Healthcare Technology and News: Obama's Electronic Records Policy Slammed by Doctors, Providers

As part of the great so-called “stimulus” bill in February 2009, Congress appropriated tens of billions of dollars to buy equipment for doctors and hospitals to computerize patients’ medical records.

But The New York Times is reporting that eligibility criteria proposed by the Obama administration are so strict and so ambitious that “hardly any doctors or hospitals can meet them, not even the most technologically advanced providers.”

Hey, it’s not the only problem with the nearly trillion-dollar “stimulus” – unemployment isn’t exactly falling as promised, either.

As ZDNet says, “With even the industry’s leading IT users -- Intermountain, Kaiser, and Mayo -- insisting they can’t meet the requirements for that sweet, sweet stimulus cash, expect some significant watering down.”

The idea is to get everyone to switch to electronic records. Congressional Budget Office estimated that the incentive payments would total $34 billion. But Dr. Thomas H. Lee, president of the physician network at Partners HealthCare, said in a letter to Medicare officials that the approach taken by the Obama administration was based on “unrealistic expectations” and “unachievable timelines.”

As the Times says, “In meetings at the White House, doctors and hospital executives have conveyed the same message: the president’s all-or-nothing approach could discourage efforts to adopt electronic health records because some of the proposed standards are impossibly high and the risk of failure is great.

ZDNet says trenchantly that “having observed many IT projects from afar in my years as a reporter this does not surprise me. We all have big goals in any project. But what seems reasonable to management may seem very unreasonable to the people having to do the work.”

Doctors and hospitals said the stringent federal criteria would, in effect, require them to have an advanced, sophisticated system of electronic health records to obtain the money they need to install even a basic system.

Starting in 2015, hospitals and doctors will be subject to financial penalties if they are not using electronic health records.

David Sims is a contributing editor for HealthTechZone. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for HealthTechZone here.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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