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7/29/2009
01:36 PM
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Don't Confuse Health IT Stimulus With Cash-For-Clunkers Program

My family's old minivan only has heat, no A/C. And I mean heat even in the summer. It won't turn off. We've spent hundreds (thousands?) of dollars on repairs over the years and don't want to pour any more money into this junk-box. So, the fed's program for trading in a clunker for a more fuel-efficient vehicle comes at a perfect time for us--as long as we don't make a hasty choice that really doesn't meet our family's needs looking ahead. That's the same position many healthcare organizations ar

My family's old minivan only has heat, no A/C. And I mean heat even in the summer. It won't turn off. We've spent hundreds (thousands?) of dollars on repairs over the years and don't want to pour any more money into this junk-box. So, the fed's program for trading in a clunker for a more fuel-efficient vehicle comes at a perfect time for us--as long as we don't make a hasty choice that really doesn't meet our family's needs looking ahead. That's the same position many healthcare organizations are in with the government's health IT stimulus program.A small, sleek hybrid would be a welcomed change. But for a family of five with a Costco membership, three kids (and their friends), sports equipment, car-pooling duties, road-trip vacations and college move-ins, another minivan is probably the logical bet again--unless we don't do our homework and get sold on something that's sexier and seems adequate for our schlepping, but really isn't.

With a $4,500 voucher being waved in front of us, my husband and I don't want to make a decision we'll regret in a few weeks or months, especially since we tend to keep our vehicles until they fall apart.

And with the feds waving carrots ranging from $44,000 for doctor practices to millions of dollars for hospitals, healthcare providers should also do their due-diligence before driving off with their shiny new e-health record systems.

Providers, thoroughly evaluate your clinician, patient and process requirements, and carefully pick systems and vendors that not only satisfy your current specifications, but will accommodate your needs moving ahead.

Most of all, be sure your health IT rollouts meet the still-not-completely-nailed-down "meaningful use" eligibility requirements for cashing in on the federal stimulus incentives starting 2011.

Just as I don't want get stuck tying stuff onto a car roof any time my family travels anywhere together, you don't want to get trapped with a system that drives your doctors and nurses crazy--and to boot, be left empty-handed when the government's $20 billion health IT rewards program kicks in.

(By the way: An upcoming InformationWeek story will offer up some great tips on what you should consider before deploying an e-health record system. Watch for that on August 17.)

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