Posted by: goalpath | November 21, 2009

One Technology—That Can Create Jobs, Stimulate the Economy and Reduce Healthcare Costs?

How could one technology do all of this? Prescription: Networking, an article in the December 2009 issue of Technology Review published by M.I.T., suggests that the implementation of standardized electronic medical records (EMR) would do all of these things.

According to the article, “If you ask how much in total medical spending there is in the country that doesn’t need to happen-providing absolutely no clinical benefit-the answer is probably $700 billion a year. Healthcare IT is a fundamental part of getting rid of that.” There is no doubt among any healthcare provider you ask that the $2.3 trillion cost of healthcare in America includes a lot of waste. This waste is mainly in the area of duplicated or unneeded diagnoses, treatments and tests.

It is estimated that less than 10% of the hospitals in the U.S. have adopted comprehensive electronic medical record systems. 8.3% of physicians that care for Medicaid patients use them and 13.2% of physicians caring for privately insured patients use them. Doctors that do use electronic medical records report a much higher incidence of being alerted to important lab results, avoiding drug allergies, being alerted to potential drug interactions, ordering critical lab tests, etc. The advantages should be quite obvious.

The real advantages will come once electronic medical record keeping is standardized and shared by every hospital, clinic, private practice and public health facility across the country. This is the only way to ensure that tests and procedures are not duplicated. It will provide every attending physician with all the facts before diagnosing and treating patients. It is amazing to me that these systems haven’t been implemented in more medical facilities given the advances in computing and technology over the past 20 years.

The types of jobs that EMR will provide are the best kind-high tech jobs with a future. These jobs will serve the medical community well into this century and the next. The current stimulus package includes $19.5 billion to help fund this program. There will be penalties for those medical facilities that fail to adopt EMR. Medicare will see significant savings from the adoption of EMR over the next ten years.

Hopefully, the stimulus money will provide the catalyst needed to get this program moving quickly. Given all the rhetoric that has been circulating about the cost benefits of the proposed healthcare legislation, electronic medical records should help America jump start the goal of reducing our healthcare costs.

Remaking healthcare through the use of this technology will accomplish a lot of good things for America. Job creation is one of the most important benefits. And by reducing healthcare costs, we can help American business become more competitive around the world. Both of these things will help stimulate our faltering economy. Seems like Win-Win-Win. Let’s hope that this movement takes off quickly and gets implemented as soon as possible. It is good for healthcare and good for America.

What’s you take on this topic? Do you think electronic medical records can accomplish all of these things?

If you are a Baby Boomer and haven’t joined our community, www.boomeropinion.com, please consider it. It is free and only takes a couple of minutes to sign up. You can share your viewpoint and voice your opinion on the critical issues facing America. And if we recruit enough of you, we can positively impact business and political policies around the country.

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