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Health IT financing options expand

One technology company recently launched an electronic medical records financing program, while another program expanded in the expectation that physicians are looking for more affordable ways to adopt technology. And more offers are on the way. IBM announced in December 2009 that its lending arm, IBM Global Financing, has entered into financing agreements with four major health information technology companies -- Siemens Healthcare, Lavender and Wyatt Systems Inc., Healthcare Management Systems Inc. and SCC Soft Computer -- to provide loans to hospitals, labs and physician practices adopting health IT systems. Richard Dicks, general manager for IBM Global Financing in North America, said IBM's move is an attempt to help physicians adopt technology today while they wait for government funding. Incentives of up to $44,000 per physician under the federal stimulus package don't offer help with upfront costs. To qualify, physicians must already have the technology and be able to demo ...

Phishing schemes are becoming sneakier in targeting doctors

A faculty physician at the University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center received an e-mail last fall appearing to be from the hospital's information technology staff. The e-mail requested the doctor's login information in order to perform routine security upgrades to the system. Because it seemed like an ordinary request, the physician sent the information. But that e-mail wasn't from his hospital's IT administrators. It was from a scammer, and by responding, the physician had unwittingly exposed the personal information of more than 600 of his patients. This type of scam has become so common it's earned its own nickname: "spearphishing." Like phishing, this scam is carried out via a fictitious e-mail that looks legitimate. But unlike phishing, in which missives are sent to as many e-mail accounts as possible, spearphishing targets a specific population by posing as someone with whom the e-mail recipient routinely conducts business and exchanges information. Scamm ...

Joint Commission revises medical staff standard

A task force has revised a controversial Joint Commission standard governing physician-hospital relations in ways it hopes will better ensure medical staff independence. The changes to the commission standard -- adopted in 2004 and first revised in 2007 -- were drafted by a task force of organizations representing hospitals, physicians and dentists. Doctors and others can review and comment on the draft standard until Jan. 28 ( Jay A. Gregory, MD, chair of the governing council for the AMA Organized Medical Staff Section, served on the task force that came up with the changes. "The key thing is that we maintained the medical staff's independence and self-governance," he said. Physician organizations, such as the AMA and the American College of Physicians, wanted to ensure that a hospital's medical staff had a mechanism, under the commission standard, to confront a medical executive committee that does not ...