Efforts To Improve Efficiency in Health Care Face Hurdles
Skyrocketing health care costs in the U.S. have prompted a surge in applications that aim to control spending, such as electronic health records, but there are concerns that insurers -- not physicians -- benefit most from technologies that aim to enhance efficiency, the New York Times reports in a special section about the business of health care.
Physicians get about 11% of the savings from EHRs, and the rest goes mostly to private and public insurers who benefit from fewer unnecessary tests and electronic record keeping, according to the Center for Technology Leadership, a medical research group. About 25% of primary care physicians use EHRs, but just 5% of them work in offices with five physicians or fewer, which is where about half of all doctors practice.
David Brailer, former national coordinator for health IT, said, "The doctors bear all the costs, and others reap most of the benefit." He added, "The incentives are totally awry."
"You need to move toward well-defined clinical guidelines based on medical evidence and better information throughout the health care system," Jonathan Skinner, a Dartmouth College economist said, noting that the process will be "fraught with difficult choices" (Lohr, New York Times, 6/11).
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- "Mandatory Coverage Is Easier Said Than Done" (Abelson, New York Times, 6/11).
- "Health Costs Push Companies To Set Targets for Workers" (Race, New York Times, 6/11).
- "Pinning Down the Money Value of a Person's Life" (Berenson, New York Times, 6/11).
- "Investing: WebMD's Fever Chart" (Freudenheim, New York Times, 6/11).
- "What's the Flavor of the Month? Medical Devices" (Richtel, New York Times, 6/11).
- "Need a Knee Replaced? Check Your ZIP Code" (Saul, New York Times, 6/11).
- "In Biotech Brews, Questions of Consistency" (Pollack, New York Times, 6/11).
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