Senate Committee Gets Earful On Health IT Woes - InformationWeek
Healthcare // Analytics
08:28 PM
Connect Directly
Building Security for the IoT
Nov 09, 2017
In this webcast, experts discuss the most effective approaches to securing Internet-enabled system ...Read More>>

Senate Committee Gets Earful On Health IT Woes

Experts share concerns about Meaningful Use timeline, obstacles faced by rural hospitals, challenge of sharing electronic health records.

NASA's Next 5 Missions
NASA's Next 5 Missions
(click image for larger view)
The Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday held a hearing on healthcare information technology. An expert panel testified on the problems facing the industry including overly aggressive Meaningful Use standards, implementation obstacles in rural hospitals and difficulty sharing EHR data.

Meaningful Use Timeline

All four people testifying expressed concerns about the timeline of the Meaningful Use stages and suggested extending each stage to three years from two years. Pressure to achieve Meaningful Use standards could either rush implementation or cause hospitals to drop out of the program, said John Glaser, CEO of Health Services at Siemens Healthcare.

"We are rushing through the steps without adequate time to ensure the resulting standard implementation guidelines actually work," he said.

[ Is IT a band aid? Read IT Can't Fix Complex Healthcare Problems. ]

The existing timeline adds increased pressure on rural hospitals that are already struggling to keep up, said Marty Fattig, CEO at Nemaha County Hospital in Nebraska. Health IT vendors aren't as readily available to rural hospitals for implementation and maintenance because there isn't as much money to be made there, and rushed implementation can hurt patient safety.

Challenges Facing Rural Hospitals

The challenges facing rural hospitals were repeatedly addressed in the testimony. Due to their smaller size and geographic location, there are specific constraints causing rural hospitals to lag behind their urban counterparts when it comes to IT advancements.

Rural hospitals have limited cash flow and long-term capital for EHR implementation and maintenance. Many lack a skilled workforce as highly trained physicians and IT personnel are leaving for higher salaries at larger hospitals or companies. There are a limited number of vendors willing to work with small hospitals because there isn't as much money to be made at small hospitals compared to larger ones. This delays the implementation and maintenance of EHR systems.

"There is a real risk of a two-tier 'have' and 'have not' system," Glaser said.

A solution could be additional support for rural and critical access hospitals, either through incentives specifically for those hospitals, or through a grant program.

Electronic Sharing Of Medical Records

Health records not only need to be digitized, but they also should be accessible and sharable if they're going to spur a big improvement of quality and cost of care. In order to prioritize the electronic sharing of health records, the government can advance the requirements and expectations for standards adoption and collaboration with the private sector, said Janet Marchibroda, director of the Health Innovation Initiative at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington. This collaboration would include the development of a national strategy for electronic sharing that would raise awareness of the benefits.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
User Rank: Apprentice
8/12/2013 | 9:59:35 PM
re: Senate Committee Gets Earful On Health IT Woes
The timeline between Meaningful Use stages does need to be extended in my opinion, or at least the timeline between stage 1 and stage 2. As the article states, there isnG«÷t sufficient time to actually look back and analyze the success of the standards implementation. I think that we need some more time to look back and analyze each stage before rushing onto new standards and policies.

Jay Simmons
Information Week Contributor
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll