Kudos to President Obama for his leadership in gaining congressional approval of the recently adopted stimulus bills huge $19 billion to $30 billion of financial incentives to encourage hospitals and physicians to finally adopt and implement electronic health records, or EHRs. This could singlehandedly be the turning point in the much-needed modernization of our archaic and ailing U.S. healthcare system if hospitals and physicians take the money and invest it wisely. EHRs truly have the potential to revolutionize our healthcare system.
However, lets stick with the facts please, Mr. Presidenti.e., your assertion that adoption of EHRs by U.S. hospitals would save $80 billion per year. Wishing it to be true doesnt make it true. Your financial justification for EHRs was thoroughly debunked by a Congressional Budget Office report last year that was the equivalent of saying that the [EHR] emperor has no clothes. This has become a critical national issue because of the stimulus bills huge financial incentives to encourage the adoption of EHRs.
The CBOs overall conclusion was that By itself, the adoption of more health IT is generally not sufficient to produce significant cost savings. After reviewing the two major studies by the RAND Corp.which was relied on by President Obamaand the Center for Information Technology Leadership that are often cited to support EHR cost savings, the CBO concluded that Neither the RAND nor the CITL study is an appropriate guide to the budgetary effects of legislative proposals aimed at increasing the use of health IT since both studies attempt to measure the potential impact of widespread adoption of health IT, not the likely impact. Even more damning, the CBO stated that the RAND study excluded the studies of health IT, even those published in peer-reviewed journals, that failed to find favorable results and concluded that The decision to ignore evidence of zero or negative net savings clearly biases any estimate of the actual impact of health IT on spending. Other independent studies have not found the EHR cost savings touted by President Obama. And a recent study by the National Research Council raised serious questions about benefits of EHRs and other healthcare IT, and urged the federal government to reconsider the direction of current efforts aimed at the nationwide deployment of healthcare IT.
There are numerous meritworthy reasons why EHRs should be implemented as a critical part of the desperately needed reform of our healthcare system, but lets not try to justify EHRs by quoting overblown assertions of massive cost savings that will allegedly offset the massive costs of EHRs.
Rick KneipperChief Administrative OfficerCo-FounderPHNSDallas
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