Recent changes in the Stark law governing the donation of IT from hospitals to physicians has been relaxed. But are these new exemptions actually creating a flow of IT to physician offices—and are physicians receptive? Some acute care institutions have already extended their technology into the ambulatory community, and we look at how this new trend is developing. Our cover story, "A Stark Future?" (page 30) shows how three early movers overcame a tangle of legal, financial and cultural obstacles, and maintained a technology leadership edge in their region. Keeping physician practices happy is a challenge, and we examine how organizations are using the Stark law changes to support physicians.
Playing well in the pay-for-performance space means improving outcomes and providing evidence-based medicine information at the point of care. We found one emerging paradox in pay for performance: The organizations that are doing well in P4P programs are already highly focused on improving clinical care quality—and cash awards are often an afterthought. Our feature article, "The Long Run," (page 36) looks at some of these organizations, how much cash they've been able to earn from P4P, and what those awards have meant to their organizations.
Health Level Seven has released the Emergency Care Functional Profile as its first registered profile based on the organization's EHR System Functional Model standard. Read "Emergencies First" (page 12) if you're shopping for a new ED system; this off-the-shelf standard provides a checklist of functionalities that can match up against any potential EHR system, and can help determine whether an ED EHR meets all the necessary functional requirements.
Most people realize that hospitals don't fit into typical business models, but ROIs can still usually be measured. According to a recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, more than 60 percent of hospitals in the United States have made "significant enough" investments in IT to begin seeing reductions in operating costs. See how the tipping point in spending is the first sign of financial gains in "Getting What You Pay For," (page 16). You'll see how just writing a check for an IT purchase isn't enough, and how Price's IT Capital Index can help measure the capital value of you IT investments.
Correction: Please note, in our May issue's "Show Me the System" article, Bonnie Sellers' location was misstated. Sellers is practice manager for Children's Surgical Associates in Orlando, Fla., not for Orlando Pediatric Surgery, which has since changed names.