Chuck Lauer: An IT Boondoggle?

Chuck Lauer | Becker's Hospital Review | October 8, 2012

A recent Wall Street Journal article left me speechless. Like a lot of other people in healthcare I have been indoctrinated with the belief that unless the industry fully and enthusiastically adopts information technology, hospital and health systems will never run efficiently and be able to deliver quality healthcare to patients. I have attended HIMSS conferences, read articles, and been told by countless IT vendors and consultants and the United States government that every healthcare entity must be totally "wired" to be efficient and effective.

Reading the article Stephen Soumerai, a professor of population medicine at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, and Ross Koppel, a professor of sociology and medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, has shaken my belief.

In two years, thousands of hospitals and physicians that fail to buy and install costly healthcare information technologies, such as digital records for patient histories and prescriptions, will face penalties through reduced Medicare and Medicaid payments. By that time, the government will have paid out tens of billions of dollars in subsidies and incentives to providers who install these technology programs — the carrot before the stick...