In an article for MarketWatch, journalist Russ Britt wrote that "the effort to drag the health-care industry into the technology age trudges onward, and it’s still not clear whether the nation’s 500,000 to 600,000 physicians will successfully make the journey." This was the conclusion drawn by more than 35,000 health-care industry officials and professionals who gathered in Las Vegas last week to get some guidance on where the effort was heading.
"The effort to automate the health-care industry got underway in 2009 as part of the controversial $787 billion stimulus program. A total of $30 billion was set aside as an incentive for doctors and hospitals to transform patient records from analog to digital. Doctors can receive up to $45,000 each by automating their offices. Doctors have to meet a number of criteria by the end of 2013 in order to receive those dollars; those who have already jumped through the initial set of hoops have gotten their initial rounds of funding."
But very few doctors have made it to this point. One difficulty lies in "getting physicians to change their work habits and bring a laptop or tablet along to the bedside." Also problematic are the interoperability challenges that have blossomed with the influx of countless vendors, all with their own systems for digitizing patient records. Sharing this newly digitized information between physicians remains a nightmare. There is still "no guarantee that true interoperability – the ultimate goal of the effort – will ever be achieved." Read the full article at MarketWatch.com.
Charlene Underwood, chair of the advisory board for Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, pointed out that despite the challenges facing the industry, the motivation to succeed is there: "People get the goal," she said. "There is a passion around trying to do it right." Zachery Jiwa, chief technology officer for theLouisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, added, "I’m pleased with the acceleration...[but] we have a long way to go."
Michael Cassella, COO of Debt Resolve (OTCBB: DRSV), pointed out yet another overburdened system in the healthcare industry that could greatly benefit from digitization: receivables management. He commented,
"The medical industry has many more issues than just electronic medical record particularly with the rise in self-pay receivables. Many Americans are accepting higher deductible insurance plans, have no insurance at all due to loss of employment benefits, or are burdened by personal economic misfortune, all manifesting in higher delinquencies and larger outstandings. In fact, a survey by Advisory Board, indicated that perhaps as many as 66% of self-pay receivables go uncollected. The medical industry is a decade behind the financial industry in using on-line technology for receivable management."