Has the federal government's investment of more than $10 billion in meaningful-use payments been worth it, or has the program been slow to promote electronic health record interoperability?
That's the question Dr. David Blumenthal, former head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, addresses in an essay for the Annals of Internal Medicine. In it, Blumenthal positions the argument with the image of Uncle Sam listening to two “angels” in each ear. The first argues that the U.S. healthcare system, fraught with quality problems and unsustainable costs, requires solid information about patients at the time of care—and a paper-based system is unsuited to this task. Meanwhile, the other angel asserts that every federal tax dollar is hard-earned and reluctantly spent, making the case to account for every penny spent.