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Stimulating HIT- Morning in America?

February 20, 2009
by jlee
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Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been living with the ARRA (the “Stimulus Act- we’d best get used to another new acronym.) There are plenty of good resources available to bone up on the provisions. As Neal suggests, the HIMSS summary is excellent.

If you’re really hungry to feed your inner wonk, there’s a navigable HTML version at the government’s Thomas site. You can also link from there to the GPO’s pdf version- it’s 407 pages.

(A couple of nights ago I was working on a presentation about the subject for a meeting of our organization’s managers. It was getting late, I was getting punchy, and it occurred to me that the cost of the whole thing is almost $2 billion per page.)

For what it’s worth, let me share a few random thoughts:

· Are the HIT provisions “stimulative”? Those critics who are (A): conservative and (B): non-HIT literate seem to choke a little on the provisions that have excited most of us. I listened in on a webcast a couple of days ago that featured Allscripts CEO- and Obama supporter- Glen Tullman and David Merritt of Newt Gingerich’s Center for Health Transformation. Merritt made the point that, while Gingerich was outspoken in much of his criticism of the bill as a whole, you didn’t hear a peep of protest about the HIT pieces. Here’s a statement on the subject from Merritt. That said, I am a bit disappointed that the Medicare incentive payments won’t show up until 2011.

· How likely is it that $20 Billion will make a difference? OK, that’s probably a stupid question, but if you’re like me, once numbers get to be that big they don’t mean much. Tullman made a helpful point in an interview with Investor’s Business Daily, when he pointed out that “the entire industry for electronic records and e-prescribing is probably $2 billion.”

· Sounds like a pretty good time to be selling HIT. Yes, it does. And during a time when stocks in general are going down the toilet, a quick glance at some of the important publically traded HIT companies show them outperforming NASDAQ by 20-50 percent over the past three months. No surprise, they’ve had a really good week.