US Recovery and Health IT

Health Reform is a hot topic these days. The partisan nature of politics in the US hides the fact that we are all human. Regardless of if you are a Republican or Democrat, a conservative or liberal the concerns about sustainable healthcare are the same.

Last week I heard Dr. Blumenthal National Coordinator for Health Information Technology speak at the College of Physicians in Philidelphia. He talked about the growing need for electronic health records. His view is that electronic records are becoming the standard of practice. What does this mean to physcian liability? At some point the “average reasonable prudent person” standard will apply to medical records, and the liability of using paper charts will increase risk to physcian practice.

This week the Ontario Hospital Association invited Newt Gingrich and Michael Moore to speak in Toronto about health care issues. Two very different political views yet one very basic theme emerged. Invididuals are looking to the healthcare system to provide excellent care. Newt’s view is that the need for personal health records, better options and personal control with patient empowerment will do this. Michael Moore expects that without change the Medicare system in the US will fail, and what is needed is a universial goverment funded program. Are they both right?

The argument about health insurance avoids the overarching issue that is looming large on the horizon: the growing number of aging seniors; and the mounting costs that the healthcare system will encur. The only way to stem this flow is to switch from high-cost acute care to preventive care.

I believe that Health IT has an increasing role to play in this. Evidence based medicine means the use of information accumulated from health records can be used to improve care. Lower cost can be achieved by reducing emergency room visits and eliminating costly hospital interventions. We need drastic action to lower healthcare costs the use of electronic health records can contribute to radically improving healthcare.

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