Healthcare News & Insights

Survery: Voters want feds to cut health IT incentives

Though federal incentives are great for healthcare providers looking to switch to electronic health records and install other systems, the American public is less enthusiastic about the government’s investments in health IT, according to one recent poll. 

People want the government to help cut the rising costs of health care, according to a recent survey conducted by PwC’s Health Research Institute. Among the 1,202 US voters polled after the recent election, 69% said lowering costs should be President Obama’s top priority regarding health care in his second term.

Other top priorities were reducing the government’s role in health care, improving quality and safety, and promoting prevention and public health.

But while health IT pros, along with many doctors, politicians and others, believe technology is one way to achieve cost savings, many voters share that view. In fact, when asked to choose their two preferred methods for reining in government spending on health care, 42% chose cutting federal spending on health IT. That was the second most popular choice, behind reducing payments made to doctors and hospitals.

That could be a bad for federal EHR incentive programs, especially as they’ve received some political opposition recently as well, including a letter from several Republican lawmakers asking the Department of Health and Human Services to suspend the incentives.

However, as PwC notes, health IT systems are expected to reduce costs in the long term, as well as improve patient safety and the quality of care, which were big concerns among the survey respondents, too. The results imply that the public hasn’t gotten enough education about the expected benefits of technology in health care.

Providers adopting EHRs and other health IT systems can do their part by explaining to patients the reason they’re using technology and what the benefits are for patients and the health system as a whole.

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