Ten Steps to ARRA

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Charles Christian, CIO, Good Samaritan Hospital, Vincennes, Ind, identifies the following steps that organizations should take to position themselves to receive their share of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds earmarked for health care IT.

1. Implement an internal team immediately. The team should include administration, either a CFO or a CEO, IT, finance, medical records (or whoever is in charge of privacy and security), internal audit (or whoever control business associates’ arrangements), and a representative from the medical staff.

2. Identify the health care czar in your state or the committee that is going to help lead the discussion related to health care IT in your state. Christian sits on the board in Indiana. “There is going to be a significant amount of funding that is going to flow to the states, and the folks at the state level are going to have to make a determination on how that funding will be distributed,” he notes. “There are public/private entities that happen to exist in order to take care of this funding.”

3. Monitor Web resources, such as the Health Information and Management Systems Society advocacy Web site, on a regular basis.

4. Be alert for grant opportunities.

5. Connect with colleges and other institutions of higher learning. The act contains provisions for educating and hiring medical community informatics personnel, and they need to understand, from an educational standpoint, that there is funding built into the stimulus package relating to creating or expanding academics.

6. Find out what Health Information Exchange opportunities exist in your state or area; this is one of the provisions of working with stimulus funding and part of what may be considered meaningful use.

7. Find out what your vendors are doing in order to be certified, particularly if you are in the midst of a negotiation. In spite of the uncertainty surrounding certification, most vendors have a plan that they should be able to share with you.

8. Is computerized physician order entry in your future? Another provision of the ARRA is that an electronic medical record (EMR) must accommodate physician order entry, although further guidance is expected on that subject.

9. Keep your board and senior leaders in the loop. Christian is leading a workshop for all of the CEOs in the Indiana Hospital Association.

10. Educate the medical staff. “How many of you have a plan for how you will partner with your medical staff in connecting the hospital EMR to their practices?” Christian asks. “If you don’t have one, it might be a good time to start thinking about it, because when you start having a conversation with your medical staff about these things, I think they are going to have a lot of questions. You need to formalize what that opportunity is and what that plan is.”