We have been told by President Obama that we cannot fix the economic mess without fixing health care (and education and the environment, for that matter). OK, some of us think that may rank as the non sequitur of the year (decade?) but let us look deeper. Electronic medical records (EMR) has been heralded as one of the ways we can simultaneously improve quality,provide medical care for all and save money. One prominent medical blogger and a fairly well known medical author both suggest that might not be true at least in regard to money part.
KevinMD, see here, offers a interesting take. Hospitals may get more proficient at maximizing coding techniques with computers and therefore increase their share of the medicare and insurance pots and thereby increase costs.With the stimulus plan the government will give money to the hospitals to get the computer systems to code better and get more payments.
Dr. Jerome Groopman whose writings on medical cognitive tricks and traps has now taken on the topic of putative savings from EMR and challenges the often quoted Rand study that claims EMR would save huge amounts of money.See here.The study needs to be analyzed on its own merits as Dr. G. apparently has done but it did not go unnoticed that the study was founded by HP and Xerox, who could be described as interested parties. We all know how the money behind drug studies always raises a red flag and a reflex skepticism of the results but here only now ( at least I can't find other references) does someone make that point with the Rand study.