American Elephants


ObamaCare Is Already A Flop, And It Hasn’t Even Begun. by The Elephant's Child

Hundreds of thousands of American physicians and thousands of hospitals that fail to buy and install costly health-care information technologies by the deadline in just two years, will face penalties through reduced Medicare and Medicaid payments. Prescription records and patient histories will be required to be entered.

This mandate was part of the 2009 Stimulus legislation, and a major goal of health-care IT lobbyists and their allies in Congress and the White House.  Getting it all computerized so anyone could access the records would make medical administration ever so much more efficient, and lower medical costs by up to $100 billion annually.  Doctors have been obediently computerizing, but you will not be surprised that a new study indicates that physician reluctance was justified. The savings are just another myth of ObamaCare.

Since 2009, almost a third of health providers have installed at least some health IT technology. For a major hospital, the full range can cost $150 million to $200 million. But the software is generally not friendly to the user, and inefficient. The claim of savings is mostly hype.

To conduct the study, faculty at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and its programs for assessment of technology in health—and other research centers, including in the U.S.—sifted through almost 36,000 studies of health IT. The studies included information about highly valued computerized alerts—when drugs are prescribed, for instance—to prevent drug interactions and dosage errors. From among those studies the researchers identified 31 that specifically examined the outcomes in light of the technology’s cost-savings claims.

With a few isolated exceptions, the preponderance of evidence shows that the systems had not improved health or saved money. For instance, various studies found the percentage of alerts overridden by doctors—because they knew that the alerted drug interactions were in fact harmless—ranging from 50% to 97%.

The problem seems to be “true believers” in information technology — certain of their goals and unwilling to hear the concerns of skeptics. It will work— because we believe, a philosophy that has made the design of ObamaCare such a mess. There is even a government agency: the Office of the National Coordinator of Healthcare Information Technology, (an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services). File under the Eternal Life of Government Agencies.

It is already common knowledge in the health-care industry that a central component of the proposed health IT system—the ability to share patients’ health records among doctors, hospitals and labs—has largely failed. The industry could not agree on data standards—for instance on how to record blood pressure or list patients’ problems.

Instead of demanding unified standards, the government has largely left it to the vendors, who declined to cooperate, thereby ensuring years of noncommunication and noncoordination. This likely means billions of dollars for unnecessarily repeated tests and procedures, double-dosing patients and avoidable suffering.

Other news among the true believers: The doctor shortage may swell to 130,000. The U.S. health care law’s process for providing insurance subsidies to middle-income families will produce an IRS quagmire. There is no chance the exchanges will get it right. Compliance with ObamaCare is estimated at 80 million man hours per year. It wasn’t intended to be a jobs program and another huge cost. The true believers who are so sure that they know how to arrange the health care for over 300,000,000 Americans need to face up to the facts. They’re not that smart and their ideas don’t work.




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