Feb 10

Exec says IT Plays Major Role in Achieving Health Care Reform.

Exec says IT plays major role in achieving health care reform.

Real health care reform won’t be possible without dramatic improvements in how information is accessed, stored and moved around, McKesson Corp.CTO/CIO Randy Spratt said Thursday morning.

At the same time, Spratt said he has never been more hopeful that such changes will happen, thanks in part to the $23 billion in federal funds that became available last year to help doctors and hospitals adopt electronic medical record systems.

“Health information is a very, very significant opportunity to improve the health care system of the United States,” Spratt said at a Downtown Pittsburgh breakfast meeting of the Pittsburgh Technology Council. “This is an opportunity like we’ve never had.

Americans spend three times as much as its nearest competitor on health care and still the medical outcomes are disappointing, he said. The United States ranks 17th or 18th in mortality worldwide and some 40 cents of every health care dollar is absorbed by administrative costs.

What’s more, 60 percent of clinical records are still on paper in America, making it difficult for many doctors to review a patient’s complete history.

“Do you see an opportunity here?” he said. “Information technology will play a major role.”

The highest quality medical providers are often also the lowest priced, Spratt said, but consumers do not have ready access to that data, which would allow them to make better informed decisions about their health care spending. “Until consumers have access to information and begin to change spending habits, health care reform will not be possible,” he said.

Medicare will begin making incentive payments next year up to $64,000 per doctor and between $2 million to $8 million per hospital to adopt electronic medical record systems. The incentives will continue through 2015. Providers without the gear in 2016 will begin to be penalized in reimbursement.

“Never have I been more excited that change is at hand,” Spratt said. “It’s clear this is not pie in the sky.”

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