Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich Calls for Increased Investment in Health Care Information Technology
Personal health records and other health care information technology could decrease medical errors and save money, but incompatibility between information systems and insufficient government funding are delaying progress, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), founder of the Center for Health Transformation, said Monday, TechnologyDaily reports. Speaking at a congressional forum on health care information technology sponsored by the Alliance for Health Reform and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Gingrich said current methods of estimating the cost of health care IT are "irrational" because they only consider initial investments and do not take long-term savings into account (Belopotosky, TechnologyDaily, 5/10).
Gingrich said the federal government should invest $3 billion to $5 billion in health care IT, rather than the $125 million requested by the Bush administration for the 2006 budget. In addition, Gingrich proposed a voluntary system for U.S. residents to create and maintain personal electronic health records. Each user would have a unique identification number that doctors could use to access the person's medical history -- a step that Gingrich said could decrease medical errors.
According to Gingrich, privacy concerns over health care identification numbers would be alleviated because the system would be voluntary. He estimated that about 90% to 95% of U.S. residents would use such a system (CQ HealthBeat , 5/9).
In other health care IT news, the American Medical Association and Medem -- a for-profit company AMA and 47 other medical societies founded in 1999 -- as expected launched a no-cost, Internet-based personal health record system for people to compile their own electronic medical record, CQ HealthBeat reports (CQ HealthBeat , 5/9).
Patients can use Medem's iHealthRecord system to collect data such as emergency contacts, health insurance information and family medical history. Users will need a password to access the record online and can provide the password to doctors or family members for use in an emergency (California Healthline, 5/9). The system will allow users to receive additional information on a specific condition or medication, but iHealthRecord will not accept advertising and patients' information will not be sold (CQ HealthBeat , 5/9).
Supporters of the system said that, as with paper medical records, only patients and their doctors can access the records without permission (Mondics, Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/10).