I’ve been really amazed at the number of people I’ve heard talking about the HITECH Act bringing in a “new age of EHR” and other similar phrases. Then, I usually consider who’s been saying it and I realize that their pocketbooks are going to be lined with money from the HITECH Act and EHR adoption. So, I take it with a grain of salt.
Instead, I like to look at examples to help me better understand what might happen with the $18 billion Obama’s planning to spend on EHR adoption. The best example I know of comes from the British National Health System. It’s certainly not a perfect match, but should open our eyes on government funded EHR systems.
The Examiner (San Francisco) provided an interesting editorial on Britain’s National Health Service’s HIT systems implementation:
Britain’s NHS, who have been trying to get their HIT system to work properly for the past 5 years. The cost of NHS’ HIT has escalated to 6 times the original estimate — the U.S. equivalent of $18.4 billion — to serve just 30,000 physicians in 300 state-run hospitals, a fraction of the health care providers in the USA.
HIT is such a mess that Leigh recommended funding alternative systems if matters don’t improve within the next 6 months.
A large 2003-04 study of 1.8 billion ambulatory patients discovered that the use of electronic health records provided no difference in 14 of 17 quality-care indicators, produced significantly better care in just two and worse care in one.
And, a summary of 33 studies done in Europe between 1985 and 2009 found that HIT actually causes a significant number of medical errors.
Definitely cause for concern since Britain has spent $18.4 billion on a MUCH smaller health care system. Looks like Obama should have applied his “down payment” principle to HITECH Act’s $18 billion towards EHR too.