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February 20th, 2013
The lead article in today’s New York Times, “A Digital Shift on Health Data Swells Profits,” shows unfortunately how government works. Those who contribute to political campaigns receive preferential policy decisions. The electronic medical data and record keeping industry provides a case in point.
Until mentioned by Bush in 2004 (yes, he is the source of more problems than you can imagine), the industry was enjoying steady, though not explosive, growth. When he mentioned it as a panacea for all the things his administration was not doing about healthcare, Bush changed the dynamics of the entire industry.
And by the time President Obama signed the 2009 stimulus bill, electronic medical record companies were sophisticated enough to have formed and run a thorough lobbying effort. As a result, the legislation favored large, established electronic medical records organizations at the expense of others who might have offered more innovations.
Today, we have three electronic medical records companies: Allscripts, Cerner and Epic, and the solutions they provide can be difficult to use, incompatible with other electronic systems and waste physicians time during the documentation process.
And who is benefiting the most from these new dynamics? Well, as you might suspect, it’s the CEOs of electronic medical records companies, who are now treated like Wall Street executives. And who is benefiting the least? Most likely, in the end, it will be the patients.
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