EMR and Patient Care

The EMR or electronic medical record’s guarantee of participation to health care price benefits got a second look recently, and the results were inadequate at best.  But what I found interesting was the “second look” was from the same company that did the first look: the corporately-funded, non-profit think-tank called the RAND Corporation.

From their second and more recent report:

A team of RAND Corporation researchers estimated in 2005 that fast adopting of health information technology (IT) could save the United States more than $81 billion dollars yearly. Seven years later, the scientific data on the technology’s impact on health care performance and safety are combined, and yearly health care expenses in the United States have grown by $800 billion dollars.

Who would have thought that such a famous company like the RAND Corporation could have made such a little, tiny multi-billion dollar mistake? After all, their 2005 study was financed entirely by several of the major EMR producers who have gained enormous amounts in income on EMR sales since.  Is there any wonder that now the same RAND Corporation sensed that the EMRs deficiency of price benefits is really the end-users’ fault?

In our view, the frustrating performance of health IT to date can be mostly linked to several factors: gradual adopting of health IT techniques, in addition to the choice of techniques that are neither interoperable nor easy to use; and the failing of medical service providers and organizations to re-engineer patient care procedures to obtain the benefits of health IT.


What a superficial evaluation.  There is no talk of the price of these techniques, their maintenance, deficiency of interoperability, inadequate user-interfaces, and in many cases, deficiency of design support.  Even more interesting, there was no consideration that someone might actually figure out a way to efficiently dress the government’s arcane certification requirements for compensation that would permit more patient care spending.  No, those tests would have been too obvious.  Instead, the Rand Corporation informs us that there were no price benefits with the EMRs because doctor- and hospital-customers did not re-engineer their patient care procedures or “adopt” poor first-generation techniques.