The New York Times writes about the US government plans “for modernizing the nation’s health care system with information technology, bringing patient records and prescriptions out of the realm of ink and paper and into the computer age.”
The report, “The Decade of Health Information Technology,” is being published at the beginning of a government-sponsored conference in Washington. It says that the government should work closely with the private sector to ensure common product standards for storing electronic health records, so data can be shared among institutions and personal information can be kept secure. A product certification system, the report says, should be considered.
The government also plans to organize a consortium of private companies to plan, build and operate health information networks. A Health Information Technology Leadership Panel of industry executives and health care experts will be created to advise the government on the costs and benefits of health technology, and will report in the fall. Among other steps, the government will create a Web site where Medicare beneficiaries can review customized information about services they have received. A pilot test of the Web site will be conducted in Indiana this year.
The savings from making the transition to electronic health records, according to administration officials and health care experts, could be sizable in terms of both dollars and lives. The report estimates that if most patient records were in electronic form, the savings would be about $140 billion a year, or nearly 10 percent of the nation’s annual health care bill.
We should be looking at seeing how we can build an IT-enabled healthcare system in India also, leveraging the commoditisation of IT and the grwoth of networks.