Who Should Pay for EHRs?
Debate continues as to whether physiciansneed incentives to go digital.Although experts agree that electronichealth records (EHRs) catch medicalerrors and trim costs by avoiding duplication,there is no uniform way to sharedigital information with other physicians,pharmacists, hospitals, or insurers.
For some health care professionals,the problem boils down to physiciansbeing asked to spend thousands of dollarson technology while health insurersget the savings from fewer medical mistakes.Studies reported in Health Affairsfound that only 11% of practices with 10or fewer physicians are fully digital.Former Republican House Speaker NewtGingrich, who created the Center forHealth Transformation consulting group,has said that the incentives should comefrom the Medicaid and Medicare insuranceprograms. Tax breaks and specialloans to speed the adoption of EHRsshould be a consideration, according toother health experts.
President George W. Bush has set agoal of 2014 for all Americans to haveEHRs. His administration also has fundedthe US Office of the National Coordinatorfor Health Information Technology. TheHealth and Human Services Departmenthas given >$36 million to develop integratednetworks, set standards, and workon privacy issues. Four companies areusing some of the funds to develop anational health network prototype. Thegroups hope to have the network readylater this year.