Is the Health IT Punchbowl Being Taken Away?

This blog has been very critical of the federal government’s blowing $30 billion to bribe doctors and hospitals to install Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) that they do not want, and which do not appear to help patient care.

electronic-medical-recordWell, the punchbowl may be taken away soon. One of the goals of the $30 billion was to install EMRs that would talk to each other. Well, in fact, many EMRs do not share information but actually block it:

“ONC should use its authority to certify only those products that…do not block health information exchange,” the budget report states. “ONC should take steps to decertify products that proactively block the sharing of information because those practices frustrate congressional intent, devalue taxpayer investments in [certified EHR technology], and make [the technology] less valuable and more burdensome for eligible hospitals and eligible providers to use.

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) raised the issue at a July 17 hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on communications, technology and health. “It may be time for this committee to take a closer look at the practices of vendor companies in this space given the possibility that fraud may be perpetrated against the American taxpayer,” said Gingrey, who is also a physician.

He expressed concern that more than half of the $24 billion spent by the Meaningful Use program has gone to customers of Epic, a vendor operating a “closed platform.” Senate Democrats have joined Republicans in calling for more scrutiny, reports Politico.

(Susan D. Hall, FierceHealthIT)

Comments (10)

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  1. SPM says:

    Hopefully the punchbowl will indeed be revoked! EMRs should only be invested in if healthcare providers actually believe them to be effective in improving outcomes through better communication. However, such communication needs to actually work, and moreover, needs to be secure.

    I’m glad to hear that some lawmakers are actually doing something about such wasteful spending though.

    • John R. Graham says:

      I have actually concluded that the federal government’s financial incentives harmed the long-term effectiveness of EMRs, because providers just rushed in to grab the money.

    • James M. says:

      I think EMRs can be beneficial at improving outcomes in patient care, but the hospital has to be prepared for it. Just because it is an improvement doesn’t mean hospitals are ready for it.

  2. Perry says:

    And people wonder why there are so many adverse occurrences in hospitals?

    • Dale says:

      Government just tries to force change. When the innovation and incentives are right, then hospitals will move to EMRs. But incentivizing with government money obviously isn’t working, its just a cash grab.

      • Mr. Freedom says:

        That’s right Dale. Just like the previous post regarding the new iWatch demonstrates, the market is known to respond to consumer needs and demand. Well, the same has to hold true for the healthcare market as well. Why would it not?

        If EMRs are demanded by consumers, they will be supplied…without force by the federal government. And they will be EMRs that actually work as intended.

  3. Thomas says:

    If EMRs make no positive significant effects on patient care, then why bribe hospitals to make the change? Unless there is real incentive for hospitals to change, besides government money, they will take the money and drag their feet changing.

    • Flyover Country American says:

      Unfortunately, I think you’re right Thomas. Just like subsidies given to people to buy electric cars that they don’t really want doesn’t work, neither will this. But, of course, hospitals will gladly accept our money.

  4. Matthew says:

    “He expressed concern that more than half of the $24 billion spent by the Meaningful Use program has gone to customers of Epic, a vendor operating a ‘closed platform.’”

    Then why give Epic funding if they aim to spend in an EMR with an open platform?! Epic is responsible for 51% of EMRs in hospitals. Sometimes it makes no sense.

  5. Bill B. says:

    “Senate Democrats have joined Republicans in calling for more scrutiny, reports Politico.”

    At least the bureaucrats can come together on an issue affecting healthcare spending.

    One step towards progress.