Health IT Roundup: Many Obstacles, Much Promise
The Boston Globe: There is a lingering "professional resistance to electronic records systems that computerization advocates say threatens the goals of the new health care overhaul law. These advocates argue that using computers to track what care patients receive, for instance, is vital to deciding what medications and treatments work best." But, the resistance says the electronic records carry "hidden costs, chief among them productivity losses while [doctors and staff] master the system. Also, for many doctors, the government subsidy would cover only a portion of a new records system's price tag, which can easily climb to $100,000 or more" (Arnst, 5/4).
The Financial Times: The U.S. government and hospital systems are planning multibillion dollar investments in health IT, but similar efforts in England reveal the slow, tedious work of implementing such changes. The Brits "decade-long £12bn drive to deliver an electronic record to 50m of its citizens is at least four years late, and will not be delivered in full in any foreseeable future. Billed as the world's biggest civilian IT programme, the UK's Connecting for Health suffers from what might be called the 'prophet in its own country' syndrome. Some achievements are admired from abroad: people in England see only the failures" (Timmins, 5/4).
The (Wilmington, Del.) News Journal: "A tumor is caught before it grows too big because a doctor's computer system sent out an alert that the patient was overdue for a cancer screening. A medication that would have caused a violent reaction never gets administered, because when the doctor attempted to prescribe it, his computer system alerted him the patient was allergic." These and other reasons are behind the federal government's stimulus investments in health IT (Ratnayake, 5/4).
The (Minneapolis) Star Tribune: "The economic stimulus bill passed by Congress last year includes $2 billion to accelerate the adoption of medical records technology, and thanks to a $5.1 million federal grant from that program, the University of Minnesota will become a leader in training health professionals in the new field." The hope is that such training will help "improve patient care while reducing costs and headaches" (Hanson, 5/3).
Government Health IT, in a separate story: "Federal, state and local governments will spend more than $5 billion in health information technology and traditional IT by 2015 to comply with the requirements of the new healthcare reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to an analysis of the law by market research firm Input Inc. However, most of the requirements in the new law are unfunded and who will pay what and where the money will come from remains largely unclear, said Angie Petty, a senior analyst at Input. She said the health reform law funds only $1 billion to $2 billion of the health IT and IT requirements defined in the legislation" (Hayes, 4/3).