Health policy advisers to three Democratic presidential hopefuls said that the widespread use of health information technology is central to any universal healthcare package, adding that the savings expected to come from better quality and more streamlined care would be used to offset implementation costs for electronic medical records, e-prescribing and other high-tech tools.
We need universal coverage to get the critical mass (needed) to make it to the next phase of health IT, Barbara Markham Smith, an adviser to Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), said at a policy forum sponsored by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society in Washington. Smith called EMRs the centerpiece to health IT adoption and added that Dodd sees them as key to coordinating care between hospitals and primary-care physicians. Thats what is really going to bring on the savings.
Smith, along with advisers to Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)who have both pledged to expand healthcare coverage to every Americansaid that all three candidates would spend federal dollars to boost health IT use by providers. And all three said that their candidates believe that the widespread IT implementation is needed for overall healthcare reform.
Obama, for instance, has pledged $50 billion over five years to help the government, manufacturers and providersespecially those in rural and underserved populationsto deliver and make use of information technology. -- by Matthew DoBias
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