Health IT requirements that few doctors and hospitals can meet

Saying that you’re going to spend billions of dollars to modernize the country’s health IT system makes for good press.

But, as many doctors and hospitals a finding out, the devil is in the details.

As it stands, the requirements to receive some of that money are so onerous, that it’s unlikely that most will qualify for the payments.

Maybe that’s what the government wanted all along.

According to a recent article in the New York Times, “the eligibility criteria proposed by the Obama administration are so strict and so ambitious that hardly any doctors or hospitals can meet them, not even the most technologically advanced providers like Kaiser Permanente and Intermountain Healthcare.”

Think about that. California’s Kaiser Permanente is among the most technologically savvy physician groups in the country. If they can’t meet the requirements, what are the chances that independent solo and small group practices can?

It’s difficult enough to implement an electronic medical record system. Compounding that is the fragmented nature of the EMR industry, which leads hospitals to adopt different systems that may not all talk to one another.

Small group practices have it even tougher. With their operating margins already slim from decreasing reimbursements and rising overhead, they have little financial resources to make the transition.

And when the incentives turn into penalties in the coming years, I don’t see how these practices can survive on their own. They’ll have no choice but to be bought out by hospitals or integrated health systems.

Again, that also may be what the government ultimately wants.