Reaching doctor data poses EMR challenge

As if rolling out EMRs wasn't challenging enough, ComputerWorld reminds us that in order for EMRs to be useful tools for both hospitals and doctors, hospitals must be able to access doctors' records. Roughly 70 percent of the care patients receive will be administered outside the hospital setting. "If hospitals are automated to the max and their referring physicians are still using paper, all they have is a fairly expensive 30 percent solution," explains John Morrissey, director of knowledge at the National Alliance for Health Information Technology. This poses a particular challenge for non-profit hospitals. For-profit hospitals can simply give the correct software to their physicians, but not-for-profits can only do so if they can prove that the software was given to doctors for "public benefit." Understandably, this can make not-for-profits nervous, since they want to avoid any unnecessary attention from the IRS. Several months ago the AHA requested guidance from the IRS about whether not-for-profit hospitals can provide discounted software to physicians and remain tax-exempt. Hospitals are still awaiting a response.

For more on EMRs:
- read this ComputerWorld article