Blumenthal: Share data to get stimulus money

Dr. David Blumenthal, the national coordinator for health information technology, gave a strong indication of how HHS ultimately will define "meaningful use," the standard that providers must meet to be eligible for Medicare and Medicaid EMR bonuses, by warning that hospitals unwilling to share data with others risk being shut out of the stimulus funding. "There's a fair amount of money in the law for hospitals that adopt interoperability," the Dallas Morning News quotes Blumenthal as saying. "If they don't, they're not likely to be eligible for payment."

Although the three largest hospital operators in the Dallas-Fort Worth are implementing EMRs, there is no means for health information exchange between the systems or with smaller providers. The Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council is only now working on an HIE feasibility study, and is seeking grant funding to lay the groundwork for data sharing, the newspaper reports.

In McAllen, TX, recently named the second-most-expensive healthcare market in the country, one physician executive believes that interoperability could help rein in some of the spending.

For more on Blumenthal's statement and on interoperability plans in Texas:
- check out the Dallas Morning News story
- read Dr. Atul Gawande's New Yorker piece on health spending in McAllen