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January 11, 2013
The Electronic Medical Records Lie...and the GE connection
Posted by Laura
Occasionally the New York Times will get it right--even if it's several years after we told you to beware the "expert" opinion on something as important as your medical records. This story involves crony capitalism, government overreach, the abuse of taxpayer funds--along with the privacy concerns. I never trusted the push for digitized medical records. I don't think the powers that be will safeguard their privacy. I don't believe the practice of medicine will be made "more efficient" as a result. I do believe the information stored "in the cloud" or wherever the heck they claim to keep it, will eventually be used against patients who have been previously diagnosed with serious illness or disease. Remember, this all got started when the smartypants at RAND issued a report funded by the very companies that stood to reap billions in profits if the push for electronic medical records was successful. The 2009 Obama "stimulus" set aside $19 billion in taxpayer funds to facilitate the transition to electronic medical records by 2014. As of last spring, only 1.5 percent of the 3,000 non-federal hospitals in a survey have a comprehensive electronic health record system. The New York Times investigation is worth reading:

"RAND’s 2005 report was paid for by a group of companies, including General Electric and Cerner Corporation, that have profited by developing and selling electronic records systems to hospitals and physician practices. Cerner’s revenue has nearly tripled since the report was released, to a projected $3 billion in 2013, from $1 billion in 2005.

The report predicted that widespread use of electronic records could save the United States health care system at least $81 billion a year, a figure RAND now says was overstated. The study was widely praised within the technology industry and helped persuade Congress and the Obama administration to authorize billions of dollars in federal stimulus money in 2009 to help hospitals and doctors pay for the installation of electronic records systems.

“RAND got a lot of attention and a lot of buzz with the original analysis,” said Dr. Kellermann, who was not involved in the 2005 study. “The industry quickly embraced it.”

But evidence of significant savings is scant, and there is increasing concern that electronic records have actually added to costs by making it easier to bill more for some services. Health care spending has risen $800 billion since the first report was issued, according to federal figures. The reasons are many, from the aging of the baby boomer population, to the cost of medical advances, to higher usage of medical services over all.

Officials at RAND said their new analysis did not try to put a dollar figure on how much electronic record-keeping had helped or hurt efforts to reduce costs. But the firm’s acknowledgment that its earlier analysis was overly optimistic adds to a chorus of concern about the cost of the new systems and the haste with which they have been adopted.

01/11/13 5:58 AM
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