Electronic health record could be developed and delivered for fraction of proposed IT grant program's cost

LETTER — Posted Sept. 5, 2005

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

Regarding "Doctors could get federal funds for IT" (Article, Aug. 8): A Senate committee proposed $125 million for information technology grants to physicians in 2006 and an additional $150 million for fiscal year 2007. Such largesse makes one wonder if we have learned anything from the technology revolution of the last two decades. For $10 million, a team of programmers could be easily assembled to develop a comprehensive electronic health record with full features, HIPAA compliance, secure transmission and communications capabilities, billing components, tracking, prescription and appointment systems. Leftover funds could reward the programmers with a long vacation in Hawaii. For another $10 million, such software could be made available -- free of charge -- to any physician, hospital or clinic in the U.S., or the world. The servers and Internet access could be set up independently or provided through existing companies that specialize in updating their software online.

The software need only be compatible for billing purposes with existing Medicare and Medicaid programs. Private insurers would have the option of designing their systems in line with the free government software or being left behind. Such systems could even be designed to allow patients to enter their own basic health information online -- at reduced cost and without compromising security. New and advanced features, such as evidence-based performance guidelines, test ordering and tracking, and CME, could be added in subsequent years for minimal additional cost.

Up to now, our government leaders in health IT have been wasting the public's time and dime giving speeches about how difficult it will be to implement an EMR. Why are we taking such a straightforward process and turning it into a multibillion dollar, megaton gorilla? Are we so shortsighted that we are willing to sacrifice lives, efficiency and economy just to satisfy some bureaucratic urge for complexity and red tape? Intelligent professionals can make this project a reality in less than a year at a fraction of the cost.

Steven R. Zielinski, MD, JD, Hermiston, Ore.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2005/09/05/edlt0905.htm.

Back to top



Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story

Read story


American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story

Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story

Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story

Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story

Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story

Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story

Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story

  • Stay informed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • LinkedIn