Adoption of health information technology will lead to higher standard of quality care

(Washington) -- The benefits of full-scale adoption of health information technology (HIT) will be significant, leading to a higher standard of quality in the U.S. health care system, Lynne M. Kirk, MD, FACP, president of the American College of Physicians (ACP), today told a hearing of the Subcommittee on Regulations, Healthcare and Trade of the House Committee on Small Business.

"Congress has an important role in promoting HIT adoption and providing the necessary initial and ongoing funding mechanisms to assist physicians in solo and small practices," Dr. Kirk emphasized. "Unfortunately, without adequate financial incentives, solo and small physician practices and their patients will be left behind the technological curve."

Dr. Kirk, a general internist and Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, was one of five health-care panelists who addressed "The Value of Health IT to Solo and Small Practices" hearing.

"Depending on the size of the practice and its applications, acquisition costs on average $44,000 per physician. The average annual ongoing costs are about $8,500 per physician," Dr. Kirk pointed out. "The business case does not exist to make this kind of capital investment."

Therefore, she noted, ACP strongly believes that to stimulate HIT adoption, reimbursement policies must be changed to support the investment in technology which should include sharing in system-wide savings attributable to their use of HIT and participation in quality improvement programs.

  • First, the College recommends Congress build into the Medicare physician payment system an add-on code for all office visits and other services. The amount of the add-on should relate to the complexity of HIT adopted by the practice.

  • Secondly, Congress should allocate the necessary funding for solo and small practices to make the initial HIT inv

Contact: David Kinsman
American College of Physicians

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