|The Health Record Review
by Jeff Rowe, Editor
Posted on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 - 02:37 pm
What a difference a follow-up report can make!
If we took all our news exclusively from our various cyber feeds, we’d have thought the collective decision had been made to stop the health IT revolution on a dime and start all over again. “Electronic health records haven’t cut health care costs,” declared one headline. “Few savings from Digital Health Records,” sighed another.
And then there’s our personal favorite, which topped a Washington Post blog post: “Why electronic health records failed.” To which we can only reply, “Well, that was fast!”
The cause of the widespread reports of EHR demise, it seems, is a new report from the RAND Corporation that notes predicted savings from the implementation of EHRs have failed to materialize. Those predictions, it turns out, were made in another RAND Corporation report released in 2005.
In an abstract of the report on the Health Affairs website, the report’s authors say “several factors” have contributed to the “disappointing performance of health IT” in recent years: “sluggish adoption of health IT systems, coupled with the choice of systems that are neither interoperable nor easy to use; and the failure of health care providers and institutions to reengineer care processes to reap the full benefits of health IT.”
In other words, it seems, pretty much everything has gone wrong. But has it? Or, put another way, is the problem the implementation of new health IT, or our approach to, and expectations about, that implementation?
The writers of this New York Times piece seem to suggest that the tech industry, members of which paid for the initial RAND report, over-hyped the potential for savings and, by extension, practically duped policymakers into moving forward with the HITECH program.
That, however, seems a little too pat for our recollection, which includes an awful lot of enthusiasm from highly-placed policymakers with the letters MD after their name.
Still, there have undoubtedly been problems that, for some reason, weren’t adequately anticipated, the interoperability issue being perhaps foremost among them. Nonetheless, it seems premature to despair over the lack of a significant payoff – over, rather, savings – as a result of the health IT transition. Indeed, that strikes us as a mirror image of the over-exuberance with which the transition was anticipated.
For the moment, it seems best just to work on correcting the problems that have been identified, and assume that it’s all going to take quite a bit longer than the “experts” ever anticipated.
Photo courtesy of Jodimu via Creative Commons.