State frets federal health IT funds aren't worth the headache

It seems $70 million just doesn't go as far as it used to--at least not in Vermont, where politicians and officials are complaining that the state's health information technology efforts aren't delivering promised improvements.

Rather than creating cost efficiencies and improving care, HIT is causing physicians stress and headaches, according to the news site VTDigger.org.

But Hunt Blair, the state's health information technology coordinator, told a legislative healthcare oversight committee that's not surprising, given the "incredibly challenging" task of getting doctors, hospitals, other providers, insurance companies and the state and federal government to work together.

"We're talking about an extremely complex undertaking and I think it's important to recognize the state of Vermont was way out in front," Blair said.

Republican Sen. Kevin Mullin countered that the state isn't getting results for the $70 million--most of those federal dollars--it has spent on health IT.

Meanwhile, when the money drains from state coffers, it pours: Earlier this week the U.S. District Court ruled that Vermont must pay $2.24 million to data collection firm IMS Health to cover legal fees associated with a case that upheld the company's right to conduct medical data mining for marketing purposes, according to an iHealthBeat article.

Vermont's total bill for the prescription drug data-mining case will top $4.65 million, the Burlington Free Press reports.

To learn more:
- see the VTDigger story
- read the iHealthBeat article
- read the Burlington Free Press article

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