What Are We Getting for the $30 Billion We Are Spending On Electronic Health Records?

electronic-medical-recordIn 2009, the federal government budgeted $30 billion to incentivize doctors and hospitals to install electronic health records and use them “meaningfully”. Here are the results from Boston’s Brigham & Women’s Hospital — one of the leading academic medical centers in the country:

Of 858 physicians, 540 (63%) were “meaningful users”. Meaningful use was associated with marginally better quality for 2 measures, worse quality for 2 measures, and not associated with better or worse quality for 3 measures.

Meaningful use of electronic health records was correlated with better control of cholesterol in patients with diabetes and of blood pressure in hypertensive patients. The meaningful-use group provided worse treatment of asthma and depression than the non-MU group did.

HT: Ken Terry, Medscape.

Comments (15)

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  1. Perry says:

    My colleagues who deal with Medicare call it Meaning-less Abuse.

  2. PJ says:

    So, we’ve spent a lot of money and not really gotten anything in return. Shocker!

    • Randall says:

      Typical government solution to problems, just ignore what you can and throw away more money until the problems are fixed. When they are not fixed, just keep doing the same thing..throwing more money away.

      • Buddy says:

        That’s what they don’t teach you in Poli Sci, when a policy doesn’t work, just throw more money at it. Money fixes everything.

    • Matthew says:

      At least doctors are using it meaningfully!

  3. Sally says:

    So, “meaningful use” basically means that improvements and worse outcomes even out, resulting in…no net improvement.

  4. John R. Graham says:

    It would be interesting to see the response if Republicans proposed de-funding the balance of the program. Of the $30 billion, about $21 billion is spent. So $9 billion could be saved by stopping it today.

    Of course, even if they spent $29 billion and the Republicans were able to stop it with $1 billion left, its defenders would then say it failed because of Republicans de-funding it!

  5. Howard says:

    From what I have heard, electronic medical records requirements are really a major pain for doctors and limit their time with patients.

  6. Thomas says:

    Well doctors have to transition to electronic health records eventually. It is more efficient and effective. We can’t expect doctors not to advance as new technologies improve efficiency.

    • Matthew says:

      I think most of the opposition to this is from old baby boomers who don’t understand it, or are unwilling to learn.

      • Bill B. says:

        I’d like to see who tends to accept and make the change. Whether it is more recent physicians or if age has any correlation to people who switch over.

        • John R. Graham says:

          Thank you. However, if they were such a good idea, why did the government have to spend $30 billion to bribe them to do it?

          Did the government have to bribe you to by a smartphone or a PC?

          If anything, the “meaningful use” requirements are more likely to get in the way of effective adoption of electronic health records as improve their use.