Are hospitals the primary beneficiaries of the health IT stimulus?

There’s a lot to digest in the economic stimulus bill, but it appears that hospitals will be the recipient of the majority of the $19 billion allocated to health IT.

MedPage Today takes a closer look at the language and finds that “the Senate bill allocated about $19 billion to upgrade hospitals’ electronic records systems and limited how much an individual hospital could receive to $1.5 million . . . The House version allocated $20 billion and contained no cap on individual hospitals’ share.”

Considering that the majority of small or group practices are without electronic records, I agree with Matthew Mintz, who says that it is these outpatient doctors who need these funds the most.

“Many hospitals already have an electronic medical record/electronic ordering,” points out Dr. Mintz, “whereas most practicing physicians (especially primary care) do not have an EMR. Would it not be better to give $85,000 to each primary care physician to set up his or her own EMR?”

There’s going to be a lot jockeying and gaming going on between the hospitals to grab a share of those federal dollars. I wouldn’t be surprised to see primary care doctors lose out. Again.