Kudos to President Barack 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. This could single-handedly 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. and the Center for Information Technology Leadership, or CITL, 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.
There are numerous merit-worthy 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 officer and co-founderPHNS Dallas To submit a letter to the Modern Physician Reader Blog, click here. Please include your name, title, company and hometown. Modern Physician reserves the right to edit all submissions.