In 2005, researchers from the Rand Corp. projected the United States could save more than $81 billion per year through the rapid adoption of health information technology.
Seven years later, annual healthcare costs have ballooned by $800 billion to $2.8 trillion, according to a follow-up Rand analysis
published in the journal Health Affairs
The problem isn't that health IT can't make healthcare more safe and efficient, the authors say. The problem, they say in the article abstract, is slow health IT adoption rates, lack of system interoperability, difficult-to-use systems and providers that haven't figured out how to "reengineer care processes" to fully take advantage of health IT's benefits.
"In our view, health IT's failure to quickly deliver on its promise is not due to its lack of potential but to shortcomings in the design and implementation of health IT systems," the authors write. "As a result, we believe that the anticipated productivity gains of health IT are being hindered by the sluggish pace of adoption, the reluctance of many clinicians to invest the considerable time and effort required to master difficult-to-use technology, and the failure of many health care systems to implement the process changes required to fully realize health IT's potential."
The original promise of health IT can still be met if systems are redesigned to become more standardized, easier to use, interoperable, and open and available to patients, the Rand analysts say. But even if all that happens, the potential of health IT will remain untapped unless care providers rethink how they deliver IT-enabled care, "in the context of redesigned payment models that favor value over volume," they say.