HIMSS boss: Further payment reform needed for HIT program to succeed

Government actuaries are counting on health IT producing some significant savings and quality gains from the federal investment of more than $25 billion for electronic medical records. "My concern is that they are going to be disappointed in the results," says H. Stephen Lieber, CEO of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

"Unless healthcare reform changes the financial incentives that pay for quality, [or] doesn't continue to pay for substandard quality or ineffective care, it doesn't make any difference how many IT tools you have in place. You're not going to realize those efficiencies and that improvement in quality," Lieber says in an exclusive interview with FierceHealthIT ahead of the annual HIMSS conference that opens in Atlanta one week from today.

"Those are not really HIMSS issues. The clinical societies need to take the lead in terms of driving practice to a different place in quality," Lieber continues. "The insurance companies need to engage in that and quit worrying about protecting their bottom line in helping to drive the system to improve quality by taking away those financial incentives to repeat tests, to perform procedures and interventions that don't have documented outcomes or outcomes that are no better than other approaches."

Other than that, Lieber says HIMSS will continue to remain neutral on the debate over health insurance reform, since health IT got its subsidy program via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act a year ago. "I'm not sure that it's our fight, our debate because the legislation and now the regulations that ensure that the [health IT] tools are there have been completed," Lieber says. "Now, we've got to get the job done in actually getting it installed and starting to meet the requirements for how it's used."

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