Researchon updating computer systems in hospitals
Managing that information and using it productively pose a continuing challenge, particularly in light of the complexity of the U. health care sector, with its many different types of providers, services, and settings for care.
Health information technology (health IT) has the potential to significantly increase the efficiency of the health sector by helping providers manage information.
For such a system, reducing the number of unnecessary office visits (for patients" concerns or issues that could be handled to their satisfaction through telephone or e-mail consultations), for example, benefits the providers, the health plan, and the patients: It may lower the plan"s costs for providing health care—and thus improve its "bottom line"—while minimizing inconvenience for patients.
Kaiser has implemented a systemwide EHR in its facilities in some regions.
Those applications may include computerized entry systems for physicians’ ordering of tests or medications, support systems for clinical decisionmaking, and electronic prescribing of medications.
(The appendix provides more information about the different types of health IT and the terminology used in the field.) Some or all of those components are housed in the electronic medical record (EMR).
Some integrated systems have worked with health IT for decades.
Intermountain Healthcare and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), for example, both began using computers to help manage clinical data in the 1970s.
Two recent studies, one by the RAND Corporation and one by the Center for Information Technology Leadership (CITL), have estimated that about billion in net annual savings is potentially attributable to such technology.
Proposals before the Congress would expand the federal government’s current activities by, among other things, mandating the use of some types of health IT, such as electronic prescribing ("e-prescribing"); offering financial incentives to providers who use health IT; and increasing the funds available for grants to purchase systems for providers.
The Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology This Congressional Budget Office (CBO) paper focuses on evidence about the benefits and costs of health IT and identifies and analyzes barriers to its adoption.
However, that improvement in efficiency would be unlikely to increase the income of many physicians because laboratories and imaging centers typically perform such tests and are paid separately by health insurance plans.
In cases in which a physician performs certain diagnostic tests in the office, reducing the number of duplicated tests would reduce his or her income.
An important question for policymakers, therefore, is whether—and if the answer is yes, how—the federal government should stimulate and guide the adoption of health IT.