Comparison With British National Health System EMR Implementation

Posted on March 13, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

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.