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Benefits of President Obama’s Health-care Information System Plan

23 January 2009 46,499 views 59 Comments

 

The benefits of a fully computerized health record system in President Elect Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan

President-elect Barack Obama recently spoke at George Mason University on the economy and his plans for it. One of his main promises was that he would take steps to computerize paper health records within a period of five years. This according to Obama would eliminate red tape while minimizing waste, medical errors and the repetition of costly medical tests. This is certainly a good move, but what are the challenges and obstacles faced by this initiative? What are the benefits that would be gained through this venture?

Challenges and obstacles

There are many challenges and obstacles in the way of fully computerizing health-care information systems throughout USA. These are

1] High Costs – According to estimates by Harvard and other organizations, the initiative could cost up to 100 billion dollars over the expected 10 year implementation period.

2] The need for specialized labor and effort – Setting up and maintaining an electronic health records system will be a highly technical task that will require specialized labor and skills. It would require the employment of large numbers of health information technology professionals, who unfortunately are hard to find at the moment. Because of this, many Information Technology professionals will need to be provided with specialized training for employment in the healthcare system.

3] Patient privacy concerns – Patient’s medical records need to be kept private because of their sensitive nature. A computerized health record system using EMR software raises new challenges to privacy of the records such as hackers and computer failures.

4] HIPAA compliance Issues – Many of the currently existing online health record systems do not comply with HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act], the American health privacy law.

5] The current state of medical records keeping – Only around 17% of physicians and 8% of hospitals utilize computerized health record systems at the moment. The majority still use paper record systems, hence there is much to be done in this regard.

Tremendous benefits

However, tremendous benefits are expected if the above mentioned challenges and concerns are successfully resolved. One of the main objections to Obama’s plan has been its cost. However the healthcare industry spends around $2 trillion every year whereas Obama’s plan would cost $100 billion to implement according to estimates. So it is a small amount when compared with the expected benefits that the move can bring. Moreover the computerization of the health record system can save the healthcare industry up to 300 billion dollars per year according to some expert estimates. Another benefit is that a number of new jobs will be created, as personnel will be needed to implement and maintain a computerized health record keeping system. Some estimates place the amount of jobs generated at up to 212,000. The system will standardize health record keeping and make tracking a patient’s health data across providers easier. There will also be increased savings for every US family as health care costs will be reduced.

So is this initiative a giant leap forward? Or a shot in the dark? Considering the state that the economy is, we need innovative and forward thinking plans even if they involve taking risks or overcoming many challenges. Moreover, the future is digital. Everything we have seen indicates a switch to computerized systems. Why should the system of keeping medical health records be any different? This initiative will certainly increase healthcare quality and reduce healthcare costs if all goes well.

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59 Comments »

  • How Obama's electronic medical record plan could jolt content management’s importance | The DocuMentor | ZDNet.com said:

    […] according to our friends at the Document Scanning Blog: However, tremendous benefits are expected if the above mentioned challenges and concerns are […]

  • Kim Diamond said:

    I think its great idea, too many practices dont manage information effectively and lose paper files. We have started implementing technology in our practice for some time now and its making a huge difference. We use range of medical scanning products from a company called CSSN.

  • ak1980 said:

    I believe that this was desperately needed, considering the millions of US citizens who are losing out on even basic care due to the shortcomings of the present system.

  • anubhav said:

    Considering that nearly 14,000 US citizens lose their health insurance coverage each day simply due to the unaffordability put forth by the present healthcare scenario, making healthcare more organized and affordable is always welcome.

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    This was really needed.

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  • Danbury CT Chiropractors said:

    Thanks for this well crafted piece of writing about such an important issue facing us.

  • Demetrios Perdikis said:

    This is a very good read. A few thoughts since you graciously asked for them. Firstly, the idea of government “efficiency” is paradoxical and strikes me funny. How, say, ten people spending someone else’s money can ever be more efficient than one person spending her own money, and making her own decision on what is best for her is beyond my reckoning given that the former has never been shown before, in any set of circumstances. Secondly, provided that we remain a market economy for the foreseeable future, the “invisible hand” driving any part of it also drives the health care sector to the degree to which health care’s constituent interactions are properly constrained. Any care provider trying to earn a living in the ‘free market’ will tell us that he is over-constrained, indeed most would say they are restrained by burdensome regulations that make caring for people prohibitively difficult. To the extent that the natural market forces revolving around self-interest, and the mechanisms revolving around prices are not contaminated by the visible, concrete hand of well-intended regulators I see the balance of compliance and the pragmatic need for digitization leaning heavily toward adoption. However, the consumers of all things “digital” in medical care will be reluctant at best and adversarial at worst because of the boutique mark-up for any consumable that is labeled “medical”. Lastly, the only idea in your article with which I disagreed is the veil of “savings” that additional expense will somehow bring. While it’s true that spending more for problem prevention in the short term will reduce the lifetime cost of the prevented problem, the health care scenario is a bit different in that the cost of care services in general will not be reduced by the dreamy and presumed efficiency of a larger, more arbitrarily constraining system but because such a system makes the filing of claims, and therefore payments for those same services much easier to reject. So, if we want to call refusal of payment a cost reduction technique I suppose we can be comforted by saving money the existence of which we will never experience.

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    It’s great to see fresh, creative ideas that have never been done before.

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  • ClubPenguinCheats said:

    Considering that nearly 14,000 US citizens lose their health insurance coverage each day simply due to the unaffordability put forth by the present healthcare scenario.

  • Short Term Medical Insurance said:

    Nothing wrong with trying to be State of the Art. Always good to keep up and work towards ideals. A backup plan might need to be put in place, as well.

  • Free International Calls said:

    it is a good plan, but I don;t know if it can be implemented very soon.

  • Exercise equipment said:

    yes i fully agree with Obama’s fitness view but it is so costly but it have also many types of benefits as well as.

  • Cross Trainer said:

    Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan is so useful as well as beneficial for all who wants to maintain good health and each every body wants it. but little problem is that its costly also.

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    obama thinking brains have worked very welll and he has produce one of the better policy. though contradictions all around but we might soon see its benefits coming into play.

  • gamefly review said:

    Reform is necessary – but a hard road. You have a lot of fat cat companies that get rich off everyday people. They aren’t going to make this transition easy.

  • Pregnancy Miracle said:

    Americans are excited to know the plans of Obama for the people’s health and benefits. Though it will cost much, we will just hope that it will be successful and efficient.

  • Forex said:

    Reform is necessary – but a hard road.

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    Really good and interesting stuff.. keep writing

  • Jeux de voiture said:

    Reform is necessary – but a hard road. You have a lot of fat cat companies that get rich off everyday people. They aren’t going to make this transition easy.

  • Allscripts said:

    i can say that IT can improve a lot the health care quality and reduce costs at the same time. Not by simply placing better computers in hospitals, but by creating a health network between all of the hospital, with linked data bases. One doctor’s diagnostic could be checked and approved or not by ten other doctors from other hospitals in the country. The gain to the patient’s health is evident in such a case.

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  • dave howatson said:

    We did the same in the UK about 3-4 years ago. medical centres were always the target for breakins due to PC’s and drugs. medical records were always stored in receptoin. dangerous if it were ever to burn down!

    Good idea, will need a good backup and reliable team to maintain it.

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    computerization of the health record system can save the healthcare industry up to 300 billion dollars per year

  • Funeral Insurance said:

    number of new jobs will be created, as personnel will be needed to implement and maintain a computerized health record keeping system.

  • Used Cars said:

    I hope and pray that Obama’s health policy proves beneficial and effective to all Americans.

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    Obama, and Democratic congressional leaders argue that by reducing health care costs, a universal health insurance plan would actually help reduce the national deficit.

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    his according to Obama would eliminate red tape while minimizing waste, medical errors and the repetition of costly medical tests.

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    Obama really have a soft heart when it comes to elderly. All his new laws are in favor of senior citizens. Good Job OBAMA!

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    This according to Obama would eliminate red tape while minimizing waste medical errors and the repetition of costly medical tests.

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  • David said:

    Every great thing in this world happens by starting a single imitative. I hope this step will be implemented in near future. Hopefully Obama and high authorities will it carry it up to finalization.

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    Humm I think the project by Pres. Obama could create a good effects tho the life of his people. So it must be supported by it’s cabinet members.

  • Electronic Medical Record said:

    I think this was a really great idea from the start.

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    what plan? it is the same since the Bush period. I dont’t think that Obama will change it.

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    i can say that IT can improve a lot the health care quality and reduce costs at the same time. thank you for your post

  • land for sale said:

    Well cost is very high and at the time when US Economy is not doing so well this has to keep in mind, I hope burden will not take effect on people.

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    I don’t know that document scanning services will be able to change things on the national level, and I don’t necessarily agree with stimulus packages and other high level government bailouts, but I agree that digitizing information is a good idea for any business.
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    A very interesting post you have here. I never thought military computer doesn’t have any protection form the outsiders.

  • Maggie said:

    Yes there is a tremendous benefit to computerise all health records – dont know why it hasnt been done before now.

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    Obama could create a good effects tho the life of his people. So it must be supported by it’s cabinet members. THANK YOU

  • hospital patient satisfaction said:

    I need to know the correct answer to this question: Under what circumstances can personal health information be used for purpose unrelated to health care? Hint there should be at least 12 circumstances.

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    It would be wonderful if that plan will start :)Both of you gave really good advices.They all people can benefits of this project.

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    that a great idea .. president Obama has great proposal.. because in this way the health problem of the people will be more easier to identify and record as will.

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    Well, this article definitely helps individual to not always go back to hospitals just to check their sickness or even the cause of having the sicknesses they have. Although there are disadvantages and advantages that people can get from it, this technology is a very helpful to the healthcare services. This will detect sickness for example the symptoms mesothelioma.

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    Barak Obama has signed in a new contract about the people of the rural area. There are so much disease in the rural area people. So we should extend our hand to them.

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