The Future Of Health Care
It's not just automakers, finance firms and state coffers that stand to gain from government loans and stimulus spending. If President-elect Obama is able to pass a stimulus package early next year, rumored to cost $850 billion, it could be a boon for the health care industry as well.
In addition to funding an expansion of state Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program, the Washington Post has reported there are plans to allocate upward of $10 billion to implement a nationwide, interoperable electronic medical records (EMR) system. The investment could jump-start a flurry of spending on health information technology (IT).
In Depth: The Future of Health Care
If well funded and adopted widely, many different technologies--from electronic records to algorithms to remote monitoring devices-promise to streamline the health care system, saving money and improving services.
"I think we'll look back and see the real reflection of change," says Paul Keckley, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, of these technologies' potential. "We will not be having the discussion about electronic medical records. [That] will be standard."
The end result, he says, is a future in which health care is more personalized--and frequently delivered outside of the doctor's office and hospital.
A Costly Proposition
This sounds ideal, but it's an expensive proposition. Campaign for America's Future, a liberal think tank based in Washington, D.C., expects a nationwide electronic medical records system to cost $7.6 billion a year over 15 years.
The high cost is due partly to the fact that few providers currently use health IT. By 2006, only 12% of America's physicians and 11% of its hospitals had adopted computer applications to help modernize their record keeping, according to the Congressional Budget Office.