What are hospitals going to give you?

December 8, 2006

While the recent Stark rule changes, in theory, allow hospitals to help doctors acquire EHRs, few have moved to take advantage of them. "It's like they've got the music playing, but nobody's jumping on the dance floor yet," observes Tim Gutshall, MD, clinical coordinator of the Iowa Foundation for Medical Care, a Medicare Quality Improvement Organization. One reason is that the nonprofits are still waiting for the IRS to say whether they can subsidize EHRs without losing their tax exemption (Infotech Bulletin, Oct. 27). In late November, the AHA asked the IRS to clarify that point, so we may be hearing from the feds soon.

While the recent Stark rule changes, in theory, allow hospitals to help doctors acquire EHRs, few have moved to take advantage of them. "It's like they've got the music playing, but nobody's jumping on the dance floor yet," observes Tim Gutshall, MD, clinical coordinator of the Iowa Foundation for Medical Care, a Medicare Quality Improvement Organization. One reason is that the nonprofits are still waiting for the IRS to say whether they can subsidize EHRs without losing their tax exemption (Infotech Bulletin, Oct. 27). In late November, the AHA asked the IRS to clarify that point, so we may be hearing from the feds soon.

If hospitals do decide it's safe to play, what kind of EHR would they give you? Gutshall, whose QIO is helping doctors choose and implement EHRs, notes that healthcare systems in Iowa tend to require their owned practices to use products that are made by their inpatient IT vendors.

"A lot of these clinic modules from hospital-based systems are not very physician-office friendly," he notes. "They're a communication tool between the hospital and the physician office, but they don't have great registry functions, and often they don't have great messaging systems, because they're built as an afterthought."