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EHR & HIT News Round-Up

by athenahealth Blogmaster,

  • There’s some bad news about the hospital business here in Massachusetts. The Boston Globe reports that economic weakness and cuts to Medicare reimbursements are hurting some hospitals in the state. The problems are compounded by a lack of funds to fix infrastructure and even the outlays required for EHR, which, depending on the system, can be a hard pill to swallow. According to the piece, “We are entering what is going to be a down period for hospitals, especially those without market clout,’’ said John McDonough, director of the Center for Public Health Leadership at the Harvard School of Public Health. “There will be far fewer independent, freestanding community hospitals. Some will close, some will be swallowed up by larger systems.’’ Also in danger of getting dragged down by pending Medicare cuts are the well-regarded teaching hospitals in the Boston area.
  • The development of Health Information Exchanges (HIE) has gained momentum reports Government Health IT. The article, based on a recent report from a non-profit advocate, does however share that HIEs are having trouble navigating the maze of government deadlines, disparate systems, mandates for Meaningful Use of EHRs and uncertainty about reform.
  • As political leaders in Washington hash out future spending cuts, in what are reported to be some prickly sessions, USA Today reports that one complication to emerge from the talks is the possibility of raising the eligible age for Medicare from 65 to 67. While it would be a move to save money, the paper reports that it could leave some in the lurch. Speaking of Medicare, chief Donald Berwick is said to be in a “race against time” to achieve his own set of objectives.  
  • In a revision of the rules for Meaningful Use of an EHR, the government is looking to delay some electronic physician quality reporting requirements.
  • Maybe it’s the same kind of information overload that seems to plague all of us these days, but many doctors don’t appear to be getting the most out of their EHR. According to this article from Information Week, physicians in small practices simply need more time to get a handle on all the aspects of a solution. The problem, beyond untapped resources, could be a gap in the care coordination that will be needed under current and future reforms. 
  • Doctors are often remembered for their bedside manner. But what if the doctor is a jerk? No doubt you’ve encountered at least one. Some medical schools are now screening candidates at the front door for their ability to deal successfully with their fellow humans. What do you think? Is this the right step? One of our twitter followers suggested that social maturity be addressed later, when the student undergoes residency interviews. Let us know your view!
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