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Challenges in implementing health IT

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In this NEJM study, Dr. Ashish Jha et al. examine the low rate of health IT adoption in U.S. hospitals.

We found that less than 2% of acute care hospitals have a comprehensive electronic-records system . . . However, many institutions have parts of an electronic-records system in place, suggesting that policy interventions could increase the prevalence of electronic health records in U.S. hospitals faster than our low adoption levels might suggest. Critical strategies for policymakers hoping to promote the adoption of electronic health records by U.S. hospitals should focus on financial support, interoperability, and training of information technology support staff.

What challenges have you encountered in implementing health IT?  What strategies should policymakers employ to make it easier for doctors and hospitals to adopt health IT?

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  1. chief222


    One of the biggest barriers to physician implementation of Health IT is the fear that whatever system is purchased will someday, sooner or later, become obsolete - after a huge expense of money and time. (Remember 8-track tapes and Betamax?)

    Interoperability between current systems is a real problem as well. Within any given hospital the private physician offices may each have a different system, none of which is capable of communicating with the hospital system. There is a real risk this will all degenerate into a Tower of Babel. What was intended as a tool to improve communication has not lived up to it's potential.

    President Obama has promised $50 billion to help subsidize health IT implementation. While this is a step in the right direction, I have another solution:

    This same $50 billion could be used to purchase outright an EMR. (eclinical works, allscripts, digichart, centricity, it really doesn't matter which.) Once owned by the govt. licensed copies could be given out free or for a minimal cost to physicians and hospitals. With this one action, the problem of interoperability will be solved. This will also remove a huge barrier which has prevented physicians from purchasing their own EMR systems. I propose calling this the Brown Plan.


    Peter C. Brown, MD

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