Government // Leadership
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11/4/2009
11:36 AM
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
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Are Healthcare IT Grants Worth The Hassle?

While the U.S. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) promises big bucks to healthcare providers that implement effective IT solutions, healthcare providers wonder whether IT adoption is worth the effort. Speaking at a two-day hearing of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, healthcare providers said healthcare IT is a good idea in theory, but current proposals have many problems.

While the U.S. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) promises big bucks to healthcare providers that implement effective IT solutions, healthcare providers wonder whether IT adoption is worth the effort. Speaking at a two-day hearing of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, healthcare providers said healthcare IT is a good idea in theory, but current proposals have many problems.The hearing was held before the Healthcare IT Policy Committee of the HHS. The downside of health IT seemed to be a concern for smaller providers and those without deep funding: Small practice physicians community health providers, specialists, behavioral health providers, and doctors who care for minority patients. They said they don't see many doctors adopting healthcare IT, and that they're worried collection of data could be used to punish them in the future.

Providers said they're looking for clarification of "meaningful use." ARRA sets aide $20 billion for healthcare providers that implement IT projects, but the law requires that the projects provide "meaningful use." HHS plans to release a proposed rule on meaningful use next year.

Under a draft of potential measures released in September by the HIT Policy Committee, eligible providers would have to use CPOE (computerized physician order entry) for all orders, implement drug-drug, drug allergy and drug-formulary checks and maintain an up-to-date problem list of current and active diagnoses based on ICD-9 or SNOMED.

By 2011, providers would be required to report to CMS the percentage of diabetics with their A1c numbers under control, the percentage of hypertensive patients who are controlling their blood pressure, and the percentage of smokers offered smoking cessation programs.

Specialists argued that these measures are not specific enough for them.

Other providers said they're concerned healthcare IT costs too much to implement, even with federal reimbursement for part of the cost.

Blue Cross of Northeast Pennsylvania, the University of Louisville School of Medicine, and a range of large and small healthcare providers are using mobile apps to improve care and help patients manage their health. Find out how. Download the report here (registration required).

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