Sunday, July 29, 2007

One Step Forward Two steps Back

Report: Health IT Bills Will Not Affect U.S. Health Care
Congressional measures to boost health IT adoption would not go far enough to make a significant difference in U.S. health care, according to a Commonwealth Fund report released Thursday, Government Health IT reports.The report, which analyzed major health IT and other health-related bills introduced between 2005 and 2007, found that none of the bills "would commit the funds and central leadership required to realize the potential benefits of a health information system.""There's just not enough funding to get us to a paperless health system in five to 10 years, in my judgment," Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis said, adding, "If the U.S. is to close the health information technology gap with other leading countries, it will need a strategy and commitment of requisite funds to achieve its promise."Davis said the federal government should subsidize health IT adoption for safety-net providers and the development of regional health information organizations. "The basic problem (with the legislation) is that giving small amounts of money -- compared to the $3 trillion in U.S. health care spending -- and setting standards is not going to be enough to accelerate the adoption of health IT," she said.Davis said the report's findings are applicable to the Wired for Health Quality Act of 2007.The bipartisan Wired for Health Care Quality Act of 2007 has won committee approval and is awaiting action from the full Senate. There is not yet a companion House bill, but Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) is planning to introduce a comprehensive health IT bill after Labor Day, according to his policy aide, Michael Zamore (Ferris, Government Health IT, 7/26).

Despite this bleak appraisal of federal mandates and lack of follow through we see progress in private entrepenurial ventures to fund HIE. Local initiatives and buy in by stakeholders remains the elemental ingredient for success. One has only to look at the success of Healthbridge in Ohio, which has been operational for almost a decade. The key ingredient is focus and dedication by those involved over the long term.
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