In response to Joseph Conn's "Some 'guardedly optimistic' about new health IT bill":
Good article, Mr. Conn. I agree especially with the last paragraph in the article citing Richard Hillestad. It states that hospitals have been able to implement information technology (since it primarily benefits them with lowered costs). Higher levels of IT implementation by hospitals is also understandable since they have the financial and other resourcesnot only to procure and implementbut to maintain the IT systems, year after year!
However, the situation of physicians, solo or small group practices, is altogether different. The major beneficiaries of IT implementation are insurance companies (including the CMS) and patients. It is bizarre that the entire cost of IT implementation is being borne by the physicians! Needless to say, unless this issue is equitably addressed, physician/IT-implementation is not going anywhere.
The timing for the Stabenow-Snowe bill is right. In addition, the CMS (Medicare and Medicaid services) is rolling out a "voluntary" physician-quality reporting initiative this July. If this were to be successful after the initial pilot program is over, and not fall by the wayside next summer, then success of bills like the Stabenow-Snowe's is crucial. Indeed, IT assistance to solo or small group practices will go a long way if targeted to this group for the "biggest bang for the federal buck."
Ashok Kumar, M.D.Chester, Va. To submit a letter to YOUR VIEWS, click here. Please include your name, title and hometown.