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Health Information Technology and Its Future: More Than the Money

Friday, June 20, 2008

Health information technology (IT) wins many honorable mentions. It is viewed by respected analysts and presidential candidates in both parties as a tool with the potential to save lives, improve efficiency and increase the overall quality of our health care delivery system.

It is also touted as a possible way to cut health care costs. A recent report from the Congressional Budget Office, however, found that health IT alone is not sufficient to reduce costs by much.

This briefing considered the idea that adoption of health information technology is about much more than saving money. For instance, it has been known for more than a decade that medication errors which cost lives or increase morbidity can be reduced through the use of computerized prescribing of orders and drugs. Yet, as of 2006, only about 12 percent of physicians and 11 percent of hospitals had adopted such tools.

And little change was noted in a soon-to-be-released Harvard study. Typical medical records are still kept in paper files, leading to fragmentation of information and lack of timely communication among physicians, hospitals, labs and pharmacies for any given patient.

What lessons about quality improvement can be learned from physicians, hospitals and integrated delivery systems that are using electronic medical records? What are the barriers to adoption and existing market disincentives? What role does the federal government play in promoting the adoption of health IT systems? What role should it play? Will Medicare lead the way?

To address these and related questions, the Alliance for Health Reform and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation sposored a June 20 briefing. Speakers were: Peter Orszag, Congressional Budget Office; Sara Rosenbaum, George Washington University; and Janet Wright, American College of Cardiology. Ed Howard of the Alliance and John Lumpkin of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation co-moderated.


 Ed Howard, Alliance for Health Reform, Moderator
 John Lumpkin, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Moderator
 Sara Rosenbaum - 1, George Washington University, Speaker
 Peter Orszag, Congressional Budget Office, Speaker
 Sara Rosenbaum - 2, George Washington University, Speaker
 Janet Wright, American College of Cardiology, Speaker
(Click on the camera icon to see a video of the speaker's presentation.)

Transcript, Event Summary and/or Webcast and Podcast

Transcript: Health Information Technology and Its Future: More Than the Money (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 6/20/2008
Event Summary: Health Information Technology and Its Future: More Than the Money (Word Document), 6/20/2008
Full Webcast/Podcast: Health Information Technology and Its Future: More Than the Money

The transcript, full webcast and podcast for this briefing, as well as videos of individual speakers' presentations, are provided by Kaiser Family Foundation.

Speaker Presentations

Peter Orszag Presentation (PowerPoint), 6/20/2008
Sara Rosenbaum Overview Presentation (PowerPoint), 6/20/2008
Sara Rosenbaum Presentation (PowerPoint), 6/20/2008
Janet Wright Presentation (PowerPoint), 6/20/2008

(If you want to download one or more slides from these presentations, contact us at info@allhealth or click here for instructions.)

Source Materials

American College of Cardiology’s Letter to Baucus-Grassley (Adobe Acrobat PDF), American College of Cardiology, 5/19/2008
Letter to Baucus (Adobe Acrobat PDF), Various Drugstore Chains, 5/22/2008
Medication Errors Injure 1.5 Million People and Costs Billions of Dollars Annually (Adobe Acrobat PDF), Institute of Medicine, 7/20/2008
Health Information Technology and Its Future: More Than the Money (Word Document), Word Document, 6/20/2008
Sourcelist (Word Document), , 6/20/2008

Offsite Materials (briefing documents saved on other websites)

American College of Cardiology Supports E-Prescription Mandate, iHealth Beat, 6/3/2008
Americans Want Next President to Prioritize Health IT Efforts, iHealth Beat, 6/13/2008
Bush Plan Offers Bonuses to Medicare Doctors Who Use Electronic Records, Congressional Quarterly, 6/10/2008
CBO Questions Savings from Digital Health Care Records, Wall Street Journal, 5/22/2008
Commentary: Information Tech for Health Care, Washington Times, 5/27/2008
Continued Progress: Hospital Use of Information Technology (Adobe Acrobat PDF),AHA, 2/27/2007
Defining Key Health Information Technology Terms (Adobe Acrobat PDF),The National Alliance for Health Information Technology, 4/28/2008
Electronic Documentation Calls for Standardized Nursing Language,, 5/1/2008
Electronic Prescribing: Becoming a Mainstream Practice (Adobe Acrobat PDF),eHealth Initiative and Center for improving Medication Management, 6/10/2008
E-prescribing Campaign Aims at Patients to Reach Doctors, American Medical News, 6/2/2008
Evidence on the Costs and Benefits of Health Information Technology (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Congressional Budget Office, 5/20/2008
Federal Health IT Office Unveils Five-Year Strategic Plan, iHealth Beat, 6/4/2008
Google Heads to Hospital, Technology Review, 5/28/2008
Health Information Technology: Can HIT Lower Costs and Improve Quality? (Adobe Acrobat PDF),The RAND Corporation, 1/1/2005
HHS Promulgates New Regulations to Facilitate Adoption of Health Information Technology, Empower Med, 5/15/2008
HHS Selects 12 Communities for Medicare HER Incentive Project, iHealth Beat, 6/11/2008
Kaiser Backs Microsoft Patient-Data Plan, New York Times, 6/10/2008
Key Themes and Hightlights from the NHQR, AHRQ, 3/27/2008
Memorandum from Committee on Energy and Commerce to Members of the Subcommitte on Health: Discu (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Committee on Energy and Commerce - Subcommittee on Health, 5/22/2008
Minnesota Mandates E-Prescribing, Health Data Management, 6/3/2008
ONC-Coordinated Federal Health IT Strategic Plan: 2008-2012 (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Office of the National Coordinator, 6/3/2008
Part D Standards Aim to Encourage e-Prescribing, American Medical News, 4/28/2008
Performance Measures Using Electronic Health Records: Five Case Studies, The Commonwealth Fund, 5/12/2008
Peter Orszag's Blog Response: The RAND health IT study redux, Congressional Budget Office, 6/5/2008


Sara Rosenbaum of The George Washington University discusses a recent study showing that eight out of 10 ambulatory care physicians don't have a functional electronic health records systems in place. (11 min.) From the June 20 briefing cosponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Peter Orszag, director of the Congressional Budget Office, discusses several reasons for adopting health information technology, but points out that health IT is not sufficient alone to generate savings. (13 min.) From the June 20 briefing cosponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Janet Wright of the American College of Cardiology discusses how cardiologists use health information technology in their practices. (10 min.) From the June 20 briefing cosponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

John Lumpkin of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation discussed the promise and limitations of health information technology. (5 min.) From the June 20 briefing cosponsored by the foundation.


Webcast: The Emerging Biosimilars Market

Watch the webcast of our June 20 panel discussion on biosimilar biological medications.

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Open Enrollment Preview: Checking the Vitals of the Marketplaces

The Affordable Care Act's health insurance marketplaces rely on robust competition to control costs and to provide consumer choice. But the decisions of several large insurers to scale back their 2017 marketplace participation, and the failure of many health insurance co-ops will leave marketplace shoppers in many states with fewer choices than they had in 2016. Furthermore, those insurers remaining in the exchanges have often found their marketplace customers to be less healthy than they projected, and they are raising premiums in response. Our briefing focuses on these trends, what they mean for the long-term viability of the marketplaces, and what public policy steps can be taken to bring more healthy people into the risk pool and to encourage insurer participation in the individual market.

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