In President Obama’s economic stimulus bill, which the House just approved minutes ago, there is some $20 billion targeted as incentives to implement healthcare IT systems. Partners Healthcare Systems CIO John Glaser, writing in HIStalk has an excellent summary of the key components related to healthcare IT today.
Dr. Gerard S. Rebagliati’s comment posted here the other day is a timely reminder that HIS is not a panacea, and brings with it its own set of problems and causes other problems. Computer conversions are always messy and cost – unfortunately, in healthcare, the disruption of a conversion can threaten a patient’s life.
Now is a time to outline a basic plan for conversion. Assume that the problems and disruptions can include interrupted billing, a lower patient load, slower processing of patients and claims as physicians and staff learn the system. I don’t mean to make it sound as though it is a process that is completely out of control, but my approach to major change such as this is to plan for major disruptions, and have an action plan that can be executed immediately.
For a larger practice, you may want to hire a consulting firm to help you select the software and to plan for and oversee the implementation. For smaller practices, get your accountant and reimbursement advisor involved from the beginning. Any contracts, of course, should be reviewed by you attorney.
The next few years will challenge the management skills – and patience – of everyone. These times are highly disruptive, what Intel co-founder Andy Grove dubbed an “Inflection Point”. We’re not completely sure what the healthcare landscape will look like when we come out of this tunnel, but emerge we will.