In election season, there are lots of people pontificating on why there is so much of a push behind adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHR). Some of these articles, while coming across from a rather jaded perspective, almost get it right. For a great example, read Margalit Gur-Arie’s piece over at kevinMD.com.
The one big thing I’d agree on in MGA’s article is that money is a big factor. At the Federal level all one hears on a constant basis these days is talk of “Flattening the Cost Curve”. Nobody really talks about reducing costs that I hear about. Its keeping cost escalation from eating the U.S. economy for lunch.
But that is not really how the push for a ubiquitous EHR got started or why it was backed by the Bush administration (see executive order 13335). Nearly a decade ago a ground-breaking study called “Crossing the Quality Chasm” really articulated the issues and what to do about them. The bottom line is the U.S. has the most expensive healthcare system in the world and we are not even in the top 10 for quality of care. The only… this bears repeating… the only place the U.S. excels in healthcare is in access to care. This study clearly identifies IT, EHR use and Health Information Exchange (HIE) as mandatory efforts to improve patient outcome quality.
So, lets not forget, the real reason that this got going in the first place was that EHR have a very strong potential to improve patient care and prevent very bad things from happening during that care.