Computers don’t save hospitals money?

| December 1, 2009

Came across an interesting story from Computerworld about an a study out of Harvard that claims EMRs may not be all we think they are:

Computerworld – A Harvard Medical School study that looked at some of the nation's "most wired" hospital facilities found that computerization of those facilities hasn't saved them any money or improved administrative efficiency.

The recently released study evaluated data on 4,000 hospitals in the U.S over a four-year period and found that the immense cost of installing and running hospital IT systems is greater than any expected cost savings. And much of the software being written for use in clinics is aimed at administrators, not doctors, nurses and lab workers.

The study comes as the federal government prepares to begin dispensing $19 billion in incentives for the health industry to roll out electronic health records systems. Beginning in 2011, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act will provide incentive payments of up to $64,000 for each physician who deploys an electronic health records system and uses it effectively.

The problem "is mainly that computer systems are built for the accountants and managers and not built to help doctors, nurses and patients," the report's lead author, Dr. David Himmelstein, said in an interview with Computerworld.

Himmelstein, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, said that in its current state, hospital computing might modestly improve the quality of health care processes, but it does not reduce overall administrative costs. "First, you spend $25 million dollars on the system itself and hire anywhere from a couple-dozen to a thousand people to run the system," he said. "And for doctors, generally, it increases time they spend [inputting data]."

Himmelstein said that only a handful of hospitals and clinics realized even modest savings and increased efficiency — and those hospitals custom-built their systems after computer system architects conducted months of research.

Read rest of story and download article below

Download AJM10662S200.pdf (107.1K)

What say you?

Category: Electronic Medical Records, General Healthcare News, Web/Tech

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