A swelling chorus of skeptics holds that the Obama administration's plan for digitizing the country's medical records is well-intentioned but unrealistic. Rules governing disbursement of incentive funds--valued at $34 billion and intended to promote adoption of new information technology by doctors and hospitals--are simply too stringent, they say.
"The eligibility criteria proposed by the Obama administration are so strict and so ambitious that hardly any doctors or hospitals can meet them, not even the most technologically advanced providers like Kaiser Permanente and Intermountain Healthcare," declared the New York Times yesterday.
Last month, the American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association called on the government to loosen qualifications and extend the deadline for receiving incentive funds to 2017.
More damning are assertions by some of the country's most sophisticated users of health IT that they will be unable to meet ambitious meaningful use standards on the government's timeline.
According to the Times, Dr. Thomas H. Lee, president of the physician network at Partners HealthCare, in a letter to Medicare officials extolled electronic health records as a way to "improve patient safety, quality and efficiency."
The administration's transition plan was nonetheless built on "unrealistic expectations" and "unachievable timelines," he wrote.