EMR: Who should foot the bill?
Privacy issue is one major barrier, but cost is the other. Ashish Jha, an associate professor of health policy and management at Harvard School of Public Health, estimates that it could cost anywhere from $20 million to $200 million per hospital over several years to put these systems in place. It would cost one doctor’s office about $50,000.
Currently, fewer than 10% of U.S. hospitals are using electronic medical records in a basic way, he found.
Other studies have estimated the overall cost at $75 billion to $100 billion over 10 years.
“The costs are astronomical,” Savard says.
President Obama is hoping to offset these costs by offering a total of $20 million in stimulus funds to hospitals and doctors who exhibit a “meaningful use” of electronic medical records by 2011. Meaningful use implies that health care providers use a electronic medical record, exchange data and submit information to the government on clinical quality measures.
“The stimulus bill tends to take the direct costs off of physicians, but it’s a reimbursement model, so doctors need to first make an investment and use the system properly to get their money back,” Harris says.