In Electronic Healthcare Record (EHR) news: Aug. 1, University of California, San Francisco health economics professor Robert Miller estimates the cost of implementing a nationwide EHR at $150 billion. Hospitals, Miller says, will need to invest $35 billion of that to purchase and expand systems and $55 billion to maintain and operate them over eight years. Hospital IT spending is currently not in line with other industries, Millers says, and the increase for EHRs would put it closer.
Miller’s figures differ from earlier Rand Corporation and Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates, which themselves differ. Proponents assert that health IT systems, including EHRs, could shed light on best practices, effectiveness of treatments, disease trends, and save money over the long hail. However, in its June report, the CBO said, “By itself, the adoption of more health IT is generally not sufficient to produce cost savings,” adding that the future economic benefits of health IT systems are uncertain. Additionally, questions remain about maintaining HIPAA compliance.
Drawing numbers from a recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine, Miller said that fewer than 5 percent of US doctors are currently using EHRs. Equipping the other 96 percent would require $15 billion in initial cost, and another $24 billion increase to physicians’ operating costs.