January 2009




HIT help potentially on horizon for U.S. physicians



According to a couple of articles from Reuters, less than 40% of U.S. physicians use health information technology (HIT), but a senior Senate Democrat said a planned economic stimulus package likely would include money and tax breaks to buy HIT.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) said at a December news conference that an estimated $500 to $700 billion package of tax breaks and infrastructure spending likely would include grants and tax incentives for physicians and practices to purchase HIT equipment, Reuters reported.

President Elect Barack Obama has said he wants an economic package that would include the largest U.S. infrastructure investment since the 1950s. Mr. Obama also has said during his presidential campaign that he wanted to spend $50 billion over a five-year period in order to promote HIT, but former Sen. Tom Daschle, South Dakota, who was tapped to become the next Secretary of Health and Human Services, said in December that he is not sure how this initiative, as well as other health initiatives, would be funded given the state of the economy.

Sen. Baucus also said he is not sure if $50 billion will be available for HIT spending. When asked during the December news conference if the economic package would include $50 billion, he responded that “might be a little high.”

Also in December, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reported in a news release that 38.4% of 2,000 U.S. physicians surveyed responded that they use “full or partial electronic medical record systems, not including billing records, in their office-based practices.” And only 4% said their systems were fully functional.

Furthermore, about 20.4% of respondents “reported using a system described as minimally functional and including the following features: orders for prescriptions, orders for tests, viewing laboratory or imaging results and clinical notes,” according to NCHS.

In addition to the funds to be used for HIT, Sen. Baucus said the economic package also is likely to include financial aid to states that need help to pay for Medicaid health care programs for the poor.

Source: Reuters Reported by: EyeWorld News Services

HIT help potentially on horizon for U.S. physicians HIT help potentially on horizon for U.S. physicians
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