Cost of updating health care technology

Kaiser has implemented a systemwide EHR in its facilities in some regions.In those areas, physicians have used such consultations to reduce the number of unnecessary office visits (compared with the number in regions without electronic systems).

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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.

Research indicates that in certain settings, health IT appears to make it easier to reduce health spending if other steps in the broader health care system are also taken to alter incentives to promote savings.

Providers such as physicians and hospitals generate and process information as they provide care to patients.

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.

For example, Kaiser Permanente is a large integrated delivery system in which the health plan (primarily a health maintenance organization, or HMO) and the providers (physicians and most hospitals and ancillary service providers) exclusively contract with one another to provide care to the health plan’s enrollees.

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.

The Bush Administration has set the goal of making an EHR available for most Americans by 2014.

In 2004, it established the position of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology in the Department of Health and Human Services to help bring about the broad adoption of health IT (see Box 1).

Despite the potential of health IT to increase efficiency and improve quality, though, very few providers—as of 2006, about 12 percent of physicians and 11 percent of hospitals—have adopted it.

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.

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