Healthcare News & Insights

Report: Health IT could help save $2 trillion in 10 years

While some groups have doubted the positive impact of EHRs and other health IT on medical costs, a new report says policy and behavior changes, with the help of technology, could save the healthcare system $2 trillion by 2023. 

The rise in the adoption of electronic health record (EHR) systems and other health IT — and in particular, the federal government’s campaign to spur EHR adoption — has come under scrutiny lately. While health IT has benefits for providers, patients and others, some researchers and organizations have claimed EHRs and other tools aren’t doing enough to save the health system money.

Most recently, a report from RAND Corp. argued that despite an earlier study estimating that health IT would save $81 billion a year, savings from EHRs aren’t coming as quickly as expected. Problems researchers see include slower adoption rates, software that’s difficult to use, and trouble sharing information across different systems.

Other recent reports have found that the federal EHR incentive program lacks oversight to make sure payments only go to qualified providers, and several lawmakers have asked the Department of Health and Human Services to suspend the incentive program on the grounds that the current rules aren’t doing enough to improve efficiency and care.

But despite the criticisms, most observers agree there’s still potential for health IT to meet its goals. In fact, one recent estimate says that with the right approach, health IT could cut costs by a total of $2 trillion over the next ten years.

That’s the message in a new report recently published by The Commonwealth Fund. However, achieving those savings will require federal agencies, providers, patients and others to change their current behavior, along help from health IT.

Some of the policies The Commonwealth Fund recommends to help drive those changes:

  • A greater emphasis on total costs and patient outcomes when determining reimbursements from Medicare and private payers
  • Reliance on health IT to gather information on clinical outcomes and share it with providers and patients so both parties can make better-informed decisions, and
  • The use of patient registries to track the outcomes of medical devices and high-cost procedures.

To learn more, download the report, “Confronting Costs: Stabilizing U.S. Health Spending While Moving Toward a High Performance Health Care System.”

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