Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Healthcare IT "Incentive" Problem

The half-baked plans of mice and men--but mostly the Obama crowd...

Billions of stimulus dollars meant to spur doctors to switch to electronic record-keeping may not be enough to do the job, a private consulting firm said Monday.

The stimulus bill that President Barack Obama signed last month contained $19 billion for health information technology, including $17 billion for incentives and penalties to encourage doctors and hospitals to abandon paper record-keeping and go high-tech beginning in 2011.

But particularly for doctors in small practices, the high cost of installing electronic records systems could outweigh the incentives and penalties for failing to comply, the new analysis said

Hmmmm. That's interesting.

The expense of making the switch is compounded by the fact that many systems now available can't communicate with each other so that if a small doctors' office upgrades to electronic records, the benefits are limited.

The ultimate goal is for systems to be "interoperable" so that a patient's records can be shared among doctors' offices, but the rules to make that happen remain largely unwritten

Great. No protocols in place for 'interoperability.' If you're familiar with the IT scene, there is no more bloody a fight than protocol adoption fights.

But back to the first item above.

What makes anyone think that the Obama gang really gives a rip about "small MD offices"?

He doesn't care, folks. Not if he actually wants to 'reduce the cost of healthcare.' Having little MD offices scattered all over the countryside, each with their own administrators, clerks, and RNs, is hardly efficient.

Then again, it is possible that the Savior Obama (bless his name) picked an 'acceptable' budget number from thin air, and there will be "supplemental" numbers down the pike--all in the name of "reducing healthcare costs," of course.

Which poison do you prefer?

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