Electronic Health Records Could Affect Costs, Markets
The implementation of electronic health records is "seen as a vital step toward modernizing the nation's inefficient, paper-clogged health system," but some "technological optimists expect turmoil from the information revolution" and question whether EHRs will lower health spending as expected, the New York Times reports. According to the Times, various studies have indicated that EHRs will reduce medical errors and costs.
However, "when combined with the emerging field of genomics, the records will also open the door to personalized medicine, new treatments -- and, ultimately, more care," the Times reports. That advance is "by no means a bad thing [but] it is also not the hoped-for fix for" rising health spending, according to the Times.
In addition, some experts and observers say EHRs and a national health information network could be "powerfully disruptive for some lucrative businesses in the industry," such as development of so-called "blockbuster" medications and treatments, the Times reports. A national health information network would include health records stripped of personally identifiable information and would allow health providers and others to track outcomes for treatments and devices.
David Cutler, a Harvard University health economist, said, "Better information might blow apart some of the blockbuster markets in the pharmaceutical industry, for example. But it might also increase demand for other drugs in smaller, more focused markets" (Lohr, New York Times, 8/20).