A shot in the arm for healthcare IT

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A little less than a month ago Barack Obama promised to “wield technology’s wonders to raise healthcare’s quality and lower its cost” in his presidential inaugural address. Earlier this week in Denver, he signed an economic stimulus package that included nearly $20 billion for the development and delivery of healthcare IT.

The funding promise couldn’t have come at a better time. As access to credit has dried up over the past nine months, many facilities are facing higher borrowing costs, investment losses and a jump in patients — many recently unemployed or otherwise underinsured — not paying their bills, exacerbating an already stressed fiscal situation.

The American Hospital Association recently published data revealing that the recession has hammered hospitals' reserves, brought net income sliding down and slowed philanthropic donations to a trickle, leaving facilities with just the cash on hand to make needed improvements.

According to an online survey of 1,888 physicians, medical group executives and staff conducted by healthcare IT developer Allscripts, U.S. physician groups are eager to accept government loans, grants and incentives designed to promote broader adoption of information technologies such as the electronic health record (EHR).

The survey revealed a consensus among medical groups that funding is critical, with 82 percent of respondents strongly agreeing that the government should provide funding for EHRs. In addition, 68 percent of respondents said they would be likely to participate in the pay-for-purchase proposal in the stimulus bill, which provides sliding scale financial incentives resulting in payments of approximately $40,000 per provider over 5 years as reimbursement for the purchase of an EHR.

If passage of the bill has you thinking about bolstering the healthcare IT capabilities of your practice, check out our Healthcare Tech Guide. We have listings for vendors, systems, services, and white papers for a variety of products spanning the healthcare environment.

Lastly, if you have a comment or report to share about the development or deployment of healthcare IT solutions in your practice, please contact me at the address below. I look forward to hearing from you.

Jonathan Batchelor, Web Editor