The urgency of the HITECH Act is upon us. Often described as a “feeding frenzy” of new market entrants, hospitals issuing RFPs, consultants and vendors at all time highs of activity, HIT may exceed Y2K and the dot-com era in terms of impact on the industry. With 2011 looming, many providers are aggressively planning deployment of CPOE, CDSS and HIE.
Hospital and physician leaders must balance the urge to act too quickly and the urge to wait too long. Action is required due to the runway needed to gain buy-in, redesign processes and successfully launch required applications. Caution is required on a number of fronts. This week, I’m attending the HIT Symposium at MIT. One of the most interesting speakers was Kerry Weems, Former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He reminded us that Medicare is a payment system. The rules for payment of the incentives will be out soon and the process for payment must be developed. He shared CMS’s initial experience with the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI). 700,000 physician practices receive payment in the Medicare system. All were eligible for benefit under PQRI. Roughly 100,000 chose to participate in program. Of the 1 in 7 that participated, only ½ participated successfully. Errors prevented 50,000 physicians from not receiving the payment.
There will be a process for reporting to CMS to demonstrate that you are a meaningful user. Certainly there is concern that demonstrating meaningful use is going to be burdensome. Additionally, we must remember that CMS has an over-riding focus regarding the prevention and monitoring of fraud and abuse—what rules will be put in place to make sure the system isn’t gamed? It appears from discussions this week there is great emphasis on not creating an extra reporting burden, but only time will tell.