Upon his inauguration, President Obama reiterated his campaign pledge that improving the US health care system is among the top issues to be addressed during his first term in office (and beyond). In response, many people are expressing support, as well as some degree of skepticism. At the forefront of Obama’s promise is that technology will play a key role in bringing about improvement: he initially vowed that $10 billion per year over the next five years would be invested toward creating electronic health records (EHRs) for every US citizen.
The majority of voices have seemed to be strongly in favor of spending whatever it takes to update health records, citing cost-savings, better delivery of health care (resulting in improved health and more saved lives), and job creation as some of the major benefits of making the transition from old handwritten records to standardized electronic records.
There does, however, seem to be some grumbling about the projected cost of and difficulty involved in creating electronic records. Several deterrents have been noted, including an ongoing shortage of sufficiently skilled IT professionals available to help with nation-wide implementation; privacy issues, such as identity theft; and, the fact that few hospitals and doctors have already started using “computerized record-keeping systems” (presumably suggesting that not only implementation, but also user training will need to be addressed for any benefits to be realized).
The US spends upwards of 16 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), or an average of $6,280 per person (figures from 2004) on health care per year. It seems hard to believe that implementing a system that includes EMRs and other health care IT applications could prove to be more expensive in the long run.
More recently, however, as the Democrats announced their economic stimulus package, the amount to be devoted to computerizing health records was set at $20 billion (this figure, it’s implied, is now the total to be invested over the five-year period). Health IT professionals quoted in the same source say that the “total cost to build an electronic medical records system could be between $75 billion and $150 billion.”
But even the majority of these curmudgeonly naysayers will admit that some form of change to the health care system is needed, and that no matter the cost, well-chosen EHR applications will go a long way to improving patient health and boosting efficiency (thereby reducing costs).
To reinforce the benefits of EMRs and other components of health care information management systems (HCIMSs)—as well as perhaps sway any (ma-)lingering curmudgeons—here’s a break-down of a number of key functionalities EMR systems offer, as well as the proven benefits.
And, never mind the added benefit that “it is estimated that a stimulus investment of $10 billion in health information technology for one year would create as many as 212,000 jobs, over half of which would be in small businesses and high-paying, high-tech industries.” True, the investment may not end up being $10 billion; but even creation of half that many jobs is nothing to sneeze at. Finally, you should know that that an EHR application is only one component of an entire suite of a health care information management system (HCIMS).
Other health care software systems include
Each of them can play a crucial role in streamlining and improving the value of patient care throughout all health care facilities. But as with any other software application, the benefits can’t be fully realized unless a proven selection methodology, including definition of requirements, is followed.
And, tell us what you think: will electronic health records be the shot in the arm that the US health care system needs?
No. I do not think it will not come to pass. Medicine for profit will insure that President Obama’s wish dies. After all, a patient must be bound to his hospital because he is not a patient, but a revenue object. Thus, health data / records must not be shared.
This is the web site that provides comparative analysis of software.
Excellent; keep on!
Since 1990 I have worked passionately on the need for better and organized medical information for the safety of a patient. However, I really believe that a big hurdle for Obama project to succeed is the privacy issue. Insurance companies will benefit and discrimation for sersiously ill patient will happen. Just like the clue report on homes affects our home insurance rates and how an accident on our DMV report affects our insurance rates…. Show me how you can guarantee that a computer won’t be hacked by a disgruntled employee. and someone gets the information…. Insurance companies will find a way….. That worries me… so I created a paper version…. for emergencies till this problem of information on the internet is safe… and everyone can afford to buy into this large project…. As it will cost the doctors and the hospitals, ambulance companies etc. a lot to participate….
This is my passion…. working on this very think as I saw how misinformtion between specialist all on the same data base made serious errors that almost cost my mom’s life…. Now my book version keeps her safe till a better - safe - and accurate and secure way can be created.