US hospitals want incentives to embrace health IT

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The adoption of health IT and electronic medical records has been slow in the United States, but the reimbursements provided by the Affordable Care Act may speed up the process. A similar initiative north of the border from the Physician Information Technology Office of British Columbia is proving to be effective, according to The Province, a daily newspaper in British Columbia.

The Canadian government vowed to reimburse general practitioners in the country the lesser of $7,000 or 70 percent of the one-time implementation cost of EMRs. So far, the Physician Information Technology Office has committed more than $78 million since 2006, and another $30 million has been budgeted for next year, reported the paper.

In addition to the one-time implementation cost, physicians will receive 70 percent of operating costs each year, up to roughly $2,850 the first year and $4,500 in later years. With incentives for the use of EMRs driving adoption in Canada, such strategies may also be successful in the U.S.

Health IT has high potential in the US
Farzad Mostashari, the national coordinator for health information technology at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is leading the industry into the digital age. He and Dr. Art Kellerman, a policy analyst with the nonprofit RAND Corporation, agreed that as soon as hospitals are able to see some financial benefits for using innovative IT systems, healthcare CIOs will be more open to adopting EMRs and other digital processes, reported a blog post for NPR.

"As we shift American healthcare and start paying for the best quality care and the best outcomes, rather than who does the most stuff, who orders the most tests or who does the most operations, then I think you'll see IT becoming a tool for efficiency and high performance," Kellerman told NPR.

Physicians are ready for health IT growth
By understanding the benefits of leveraging healthcare inventory management in the cloud, CIOs, as well as doctors and nurses, may make a stronger push for EMRs. NPR cited research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that showed 72 percent of office-based physicians use some sort of electronic system.

This demonstrates that general practitioners are ready to embrace more extensive IT growth such as cloud-based apps and mobile devices to make them more efficient. However, Mostashari predicts it will be about six more years until hospitals can see real cost-savings from EMRs and other IT innovations.