Are Electronic Medical Records Worth the Costs of Implementation?

Tara O'Neill | American Action Forum | August 6, 2015

Electronic medical records (EMRs), as a cornerstone of a more intelligent, adaptive, and efficient health care system, have the potential to improve the overall health of our society and begin to rein in the trillions of dollars spent on health care each year. However, implementation and utilization of such record systems brings its own significant costs and challenges which must be carefully considered and overcome in order to fully realize the potential benefits...

All of these potential advances could greatly improve health outcomes and help bend the health care cost curve. Unfortunately, these advances come with significant costs, both financially and in terms of personal privacy. Going forward, policymakers should work to ensure limited resources are used in a more cost-effective manner. Changes to EMR policy have been part of recent legislative and executive action. Efforts to align various conflicting interests were included in the recently passed H.R. 2, Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, for example.

CMS recently announced that entrepreneurs and innovators will be given access to Medicare data for research purposes. The House-passed H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act, encourages greater access to and use of health care data for research purposes. [22] As EMR adoption continues to increase along with the type of information gathered, policymakers should work with experts and the public to ensure that the appropriate balance is struck between sharing information to allow advancements and providing necessary privacy protections.