Health IT Opportunities Abound, Some Studies Question Value
"The rest of the world has embraced e-mail, online forms and iPhone apps, but health care still communicates in the centuries-old technology of paper," McClatchy/Tribune News reports. Now, technology companies are recognizing a business opportunity in that shortcoming. Moving to electronic medical records can be expensive Kaiser Permanente spent $4 billion switching from paper to digital meaning money in the bank for well-poised vendors. Some companies are also exploring innovations beyond traditional electronic records systems, such as Epic or Google's effort to provide consumers with personal, online records (Chan, 10/26).
Yet, some critics say health information technology is not a "cure-all," the Washington Post/Columbus Dispatch reports. A $19.5 billion, stimulus-funded program is helping doctors and hospitals adopt new technologies. "Obama has said the changes will save billions in health-care costs and will minimize medication errors (but) researchers at the University of Minnesota found in March that electronic records prevented only two infections a year. A 2005 report in the journal Pediatrics found that deaths at the children's hospital at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center more than doubled in the five months after a computerized order-entry system went online. The center said the study had not found that technology caused the rise in mortality and maintained that medication errors were down 60 percent since computers were introduced in 2002" (Mostrous, 10/25).