Paul Peabody, vice president and CIO of Beaumont Hospitals in Royal Oaks, Mich., says he is confident his three-hospital organization will be in good shape to qualify for Medicare bonuses. That's because it has spent close to $100 million over five years on a system-wide Epic (Verona, Wis.) implementation. Its hospital in Royal Oak is a 1,061-bed teaching hospital, and one of the busiest in the country. Peabody says it's difficult to determine exactly how much money in Medicare incentives Beaumont will receive, but he estimates it could be $10 million over the next four to five years. “That will help a lot,” he says.
Money will also help with Beaumont's ongoing effort to reach out to community physicians. Taking advantage of the Stark exemption that allows hospitals to subsidize EHRs for physician offices, Beaumont expects to have 300 local physician offices using the Epic system by the end of 2009.
Peabody does have questions about the language that states the EHRs must be interoperable. “What does that mean when we don't have standards yet?” he asked. What CIOs need and don't have yet, he explained, are patient identifiers, a standard format for the envelope that contains the data, such as HL7, version 3, and standard clinical nomenclature. Standards groups would really have to move quickly to have those criteria ready in just a couple of years, he says, and “I have never seen them move that fast on anything.”