A consistent refrain from health care ‚Äúreformers‚Ä? is that electronic health records will cure much of what ails our medical delivery system. Not only will EHR save money, they tell us, it will improve quality. Not so fast says the Archives of Internal Medicine:

Our findings indicate no consistent association between EHRs … and better quality. These results raise concerns about the ability of health information technology to fundamentally alter outpatient care quality.

Unfortunately,¬†it’s a little late in the day to¬†express such “concerns.” When the¬†President and his congressional accomplices rammed through the “stimulus”¬†bill in early 2009, in contained a variety of¬† provisions mandating EHR for physicians and hospitals:

Their use is likely to accelerate because of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) provisions of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009.

And guess what? These systems are pretty expensive. This means they will raise the cost of the health care you receive. BTW, if you’re one of the few people who still believe that whopper the President told about EHR saving us $80 billion, I recommend this WSJ piece:¬†

The basis for the president’s proposal is a theoretical study published in 2005 by the RAND Corporation, funded by companies including Hewlett-Packard and Xerox that stand to financially benefit from such an electronic system … The RAND study and the Obama proposal it spawned appear to be an elegant exercise in wishful thinking.

This is not, by the way,¬†”right-wing vitriol.” The guys who wrote that passage voted for President Obama. So, it looks like we’re stuck with expensive EHR technology that doesn’t improve the quality of care. Thank goodness for our “leaders” in Washington.

[ht John Goodman]

Comments 4

  1. John Schneider wrote:

    Mr. Catron:

    I’m with MO Medicaid, and I work with some of the issues precipitated by ARRA (Stimulus) and PPACA (Obamacare). After looking at the report to which you linked, my reaction was like that of my daughter’s favorite cartoon character, Scooby-Doo: “Ruh-roh!” One project that is really getting the push in MO is the EHR incentive payments under the HITECH portion of PPACA. The justifications I hear for this program boil down to 2 reasons: EHR is a silver bullet, and the feds are picking up the cost. May be bureaucratic inertia on my part, but I always worry that we are rushing in where angels fear to tread. Thanks for passing on the knowledge!

    Posted 28 Jan 2011 at 2:55 pm
  2. Marc Brown wrote:

    You’re right. I think all healthcare records should be written on parchment and stored in a cave by the Dead Sea.

    Posted 29 Jan 2011 at 12:57 pm
  3. Rich wrote:

    Nice straw-man, Marc. Intetesting how you selectively dismiss clinical research. If this were an article about avastin failing to improve quality you would have (have had) the exact opposite reaction.

    Of course tbe study, David’s piece, and the comment above have nothing to do with keeping doctors from modernizing their record keeping, only with government mandates and incentives, but you know that.

    Posted 29 Jan 2011 at 9:09 pm
  4. denver wrote:

    I dread getting referrals from doctors using EHR systems. Pages and pages of useless information and a short sentance about the patient’s condition and diagnosis, likely due to the physician not being a proficient typist. The overall quality of the information seems diminished.

    Posted 01 Feb 2011 at 2:15 pm

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