Controlling the Flow of IT Dough

Digitization of the country's healthcare data has released deep wells of previously untapped capital. The resulting gusher is spewing billions of dollars across government agencies, private companies and healthcare providers.

Digitization of the country's healthcare data has released deep wells of previously untapped capital. The resulting gusher is spewing billions of dollars across government agencies, private companies and healthcare providers.

Two efforts undertaken this week seek to control--if not contain--the flow.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services selected Northrop Grumman Corporation to develop a National Level Repository to track billions of dollars in federal incentive payments intended to entice healthcare professionals to adopt electronic health records.

"As the United States undergoes a significant transformation of its healthcare system, the National Level Repository will meet a critical need by processing millions of transactions to provide correct and accurate payments to our countless professionals, institutions and state agencies that are serving the medical needs of our citizens," said Amy King, Northrop Grumman's vice president of health information technology programs.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate this week passed a bill "that would put tighter controls around the money the government invests in its major information technology projects," reports Washington Technology.

The bill does not specifically target health IT, but its sponsors noted last fall that an information systems modernization program undertaken by the VA was one of "two investments in particular [that] are especially egregious" in terms of cost overruns.