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Data Bank: Health Information Technology

Doctor seated, using computerImplementing meaningful, effective health information technology throughout the nation’s health care system is not a technical problem. Rather, the lack of current health IT infrastructure results from the absence of a business case for such improvements, according to Todd Park and Peter Basch in a CAP report released this week. But health IT can enable effective payment reform in forthcoming health care legislation by improving chronic disease management, knowledge-based medication supervision, and the coordination of care.

Here’s a look at some of the numbers on how health IT can improve health care for all Americans by providing better quality and value.

Current spending on health is enormous:

16 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product currently goes toward health care spending.

20 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product will go toward health care spending in 2016, according to current predictions.

Health information technology can help prevent avoidable problems through better information coordination:

Every year, 100,000 people die in the United States as a result of preventable medical errors

There are 1.5 million annual preventable adverse drug events in the United States.

Without the widespread adoption of health IT systems, it will be impossible to implement value-based payment regimes for U.S. health care. Support from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s HITECH can help spur adoption and meaningful use:

Only 13 percent of physicians currently use even a basic electronic health record, or EHR.

A mere 4 percent of physicians use a “fully functional” EHR.

1.5 percent of hospitals responding to a recent survey published in the New England of Medicine have a comprehensive electronic-records system.

8 to 12 percent of hospitals responding to the same survey have a basic electronic records system.

How the HITECH program can help:

$19 billion: the federal investment in the health IT authorized for the program.

74 percent: the proportion of hospitals responding to recent survey published in the New England Journal of Medicine citing inadequate capital as a primary barrier to adoption of health IT systems.

$44,000 to $64,000: amount of bonuses available under the program for health care providers who can demonstrate “meaningful use of certified EHRs.”

$11 million: bonuses paid through the system to hospitals  who can demonstrate “meaningful use of certified EHRs.”

Health IT can dramatically improve chronic care, which consumes massive portions of health-related spending in this country:

75 percent: proportion of all health spending that goes to treat chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, cancer, pulmonary conditions, and mental disorders.

56 percent: proportion of chronic care in the United States that appropriately involves evidence-based management.

125 million: the number of people in the United States suffering from at least one chronic care condition, as of the year 2000.

Read the full report, “A Historic Opportunity: Wedding Health Information Technology to Care Delivery Innovation and Provider Payment Reform” at the main CAP website.

Image: AP/John Raoux

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