A recent RAND study showed that the implementation of health information technology (HIT) has affected neither a reduction in the cost nor an improvement in the quality of healthcare. As soon as the results were released, Twitter, Facebook and practically every Health IT magazine and website lit up with exasperated buzz and chatter about the surprising reveal. Weren’t EHRs supposed to swoop in and save the physician’s practice without fault – oh, and perhaps hand out individually wrapped mints as the patients leave? Health IT has been boasted as the hero that has come back to avenge a broken health care system. Why then, hasn’t it been saved?
While many people, including the authors of the RAND study, believe that Health IT will eventually achieve these goals, others aren’t so convinced. There is a concern that while well- designed HIT systems will definitely help physicians run their business more efficiently, they won’t necessarily bring about a reduction in the cost of healthcare or drastically improve the quality of care. Some doctors, like Hayward Zwerling, M.D., are calling for a time-out of sorts. They are asking the government to stop pushing more Meaningful Use incentives and focus on finding out if what is already in place is working. Zwerling, who runs a solo, private practice, was the creator of one of the older EMRs and believes in the many benefits that Health IT provides. All he asks is that we focus on what we see as a direct result of adopting the right EHR and not sing its praises for something it hasn’t yet accomplished.