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Tallying the return investments in medical records

Dan Gorenstein Apr 13, 2015
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Let’s face it, a lot of government reports tend to suffer the indignity of dust — they get set aside, forgotten about. 

But some health experts think a new report from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology may force a change. That’s because after taxpayers have spent around $30 billion in part to share patient data, the government has said it’s not getting enough for its money.

And hospitals and software IT vendors all share some of that blame. This report has done something that’s been a long time coming; it’s named a pernicious problem in health IT.

It’s called data blocking, says Michigan’s Julia Adler-Milstein. “This is a strong statement of who they believe is engaging in bad behavior,” she says. 

Both software companies and hospitals have engaged in this bad behavior according to the report, which costs us billions in wasted care every year.

Adler-Milstein says today just 14 percent of doctors share patient data, and only a third of hospitals because some companies have put their own financial interests before the common good. Former Washington health IT chief Farzad Mostashari says the report put people on notice this won’t be tolerated anymore.

“The lens is focusing on you. You could have thought that no one is able to see me, but now comes it comes into clear focus, “he says.

Software vendors says they have gotten the message.

“This is a clear case where the perception becomes reality and it has to be addressed seriously,” says Mark Segal, chair of the Electronic Health Records Association, an industry trade group.

Segal says this is an important step towards building standards so more patient data flows freely.

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