“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”
—President John F. Kennedy
Imagine if President Kennedy in his famous speech didn’t stop at this point.
Instead, he started describing the rocket.
Assume he demanded a rocket with only two, or maybe four stages; that he insisted on a specific type of fuel, or certain weight and speed.
Would the American space program have succeeded? I doubt it, and you should too.
The Obama administration’s plan to spend $19.2 billion on electronic medical records as the sole path to achieve health care automation is the equivalent of Kennedy dictating to NASA the specifications of the rocket carrying Neil Armstrong to the moon.
Health care automation is the new national project for good reasons.
Americans spent $2.7 trillion on health care in 2007, or $7,900 per person.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services projected in a recent report that health care expenditures will reach $4.3 trillion by 2016.
The administrative cost alone of health care delivery was 31 percent of the total cost, and expected to reach $1.29 trillion by 2016, according to the same report.
While the U.S. health care cost per capita is the highest in the developed world, Americans lag in all related statistics such as life span, infant mortality and number of uninsured.
The American government is a major consumer of health care through Medicare, Medicaid, government employees’ plans and many other programs, so it has a major stake in cutting costs.
The focus on health care automation to squeeze excesses and improve quality is the right goal.
However, forcing an electronic health record system as the pathway to reap the benefits of automation represents a total misunderstanding of the legitimate reasons behind why U.S. health care has been slow to adopt these systems.
The electronic health record concept has been around for a very long time, but the adoption rate in the U.S. is 1.5 percent, according to The New England Journal of Medicine.