Wednesday, March 02, 2005



With limited funding available for physicians to adopt electronic health records, providers must become more innovative in their efforts to pay for these systems, a panel of healthcare industry and government officials said Thursday.
For physicians who are seeking government funds for adopting EHRs, it is important to propose projects that are sustainable and test something that hasn’t been done before, Dan Gaylin, senior vice president for health survey and policy research at the National Opinion Research Center told participants on a call organized by Physicians EHR, a healthcare IT consulting firm.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in 2004 gave funding to NORC to support and give technical assistance to 108 healthcare IT grantees. Gaylin explained that most first-time grant applicants had a 25 percent success rate, but he said it would behoove providers to go through the process and learn how to improve their proposals.
P. Jon White, MD, health information technology portfolio manager for AHRQ, said the government was interested in funding regional collaborations that include players from hospitals, physician offices, laboratories and other healthcare-related organizations. In addition, some states, including Wisconsin and Colorado, are beginning to take an interest in funding EHR projects, White said.
Despite some government funding that’s available to physicians, Carolyn Hartley, president of Physicians EHR, said the government’s total spending on healthcare IT amounts to about $78 per physician, not enough for them to purchase records systems, which often require a substantial investment. She said physicians should look to some of the partners with whom they health data as potential sources of funding.
Some payers are starting to help fund physicians’ EMR adoption. Laura Leinen, e-health program manager for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, told conference participants about the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative, a three-year pilot program that will test whether providers throughout the state can exchange electronic health information. BCBSM also will roll out a program to offer grants for EMR adoption, Leinen said. In addition, the insurer is creating a program to measure the clinical, financial, strategic and operational success of such programs.


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