Recovery act is 'game-changing' for healthcare IT, says P4P panel

Janet Marchibroda

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, or ARRA, may be the driver for connecting HIEs to P4P, said Janet Marchibroda, chief healthcare officer for IBM.

Marchibroda spoke March 10 at the Fourth National Pay-for-Performance Summit in San Francisco. She was a member  of a panel that discussed the role of health information exchanges, or HIEs, in pay-for-performance, or P4P, programs.

ARRA is “game changing in ways we quite don’t know yet,” she said. Over the next 10 years, $19.2 billion worth of incentives will be distributed to hospitals and healthcare professionals who implement qualified electronic health records and utilize them  in a meaningful way. While the terms “qualified” and “meaningful use” still need to be defined, Marchibroda noted that ARRA has “an enormous impact on how providers can use healthcare IT infrastructure and standards for pay for performance.”

With AARA’s grants, loans and technical assistance bringing $300 million to regional and local HIEs, the time is ideal to bridge healthcare IT and quality, she said. One interpretation of the meaningful use of a certified EHR would be to exchange health information and report on quality measures, she said.

eHealth Initiative’s annual survey  released in early September 2008 showed a 31 percent increase in operational HIEs, up from 32 in 2007 to 42 in 2008. Furthermore, 29 reported reductions in healthcare costs, 22 reported positive impact on healthcare delivery and 29 reported a positive financial return on investment for participating stakeholders. These numbers bode well for HIE development, said Marchibroda. For added value, the data flowing within the HIE – lab, outpatient lab results, outpatient episodes, radiology results, inpatient episodes, emergency department, dictation and transcription – can also be used for pay for performance, she said.

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