Healthcare // Clinical Information Systems
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5/10/2010
01:22 PM
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Health IT Savings May Reach $261 Billion

Innovative health IT systems that go beyond electronic health records to provide better analytics and drive greater efficiency could save billions over a decade.

As the healthcare system braces for a new age, using technology to develop interoperable, patient-centered health IT systems could yield billion of dollars in savings, a report predicts.

The report, "A 21st Century Roadmap for Advancing America's Health: the Path from Peril to Progress," highlights the role HIT will play in re-engineering healthcare through the adoption of electronic health records, providing better analytics, and driving greater efficiency as the country builds a more comprehensive framework that strengthens the public health infrastructure. Additionally, new systems can create cost savings.

"If used in innovative ways, the estimated savings from HIT expansion could reach $261 billion over 10 years," the report said.

However, the goal of widespread implementation of EHRs is still in the nascent stages of development, with only 20.5% of physicians and 8-10% of hospitals using basic EHRs. Fewer still are meaningfully applying HIT to advance care coordination, aide clinical decision-making, or report health outcomes, among other practices. However, to gain appreciable benefits from HIT, a comprehensive approach must be adopted.

"HIT's potential, as opposed to EHRs alone, does not center solely on making patients' records more accessible, but rather on improving the information available for medical decision making, collecting performance data, and ensuring that avoidable medical errors will be more difficult to occur," the report said.

This is the second report published by the Commission on U.S. Federal Leadership in Health and Medicine, which is a group of national healthcare experts convened by the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, based in Washington D.C.

The document, published May 5, provides a roadmap of recommendations, which include re-engineering America's healthcare system, advancing public health in the United States, promoting global health and health diplomacy, and strengthening U.S. medical and public health research.

In technology, the report recommended that issues of HIT interoperability, protection of patient privacy, and the need for a clearinghouse of health information be addressed.

The document references the passing of recent health reform legislation by noting that the law sets the stage for progress in the development of a national strategy for healthcare improvements that are enhanced by the use of HIT and EHRs.

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