As policymakers "craft the nation's health IT strategy," they "must collaborate with doctors and hospitals to ensure that the new technology actually results in a more efficient, higher-quality health care system," Sally Pipes, president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, writes in a Contra Costa Times opinion piece.
According to Pipes, "Electronic [health] records have the potential to reduce health care costs, minimize physician error, shorten wait times for patients and save lives." However, she adds, "If done improperly, a [health IT] overhaul could make American health care less effective and more expensive."
Pipes calls on policymakers to embrace several principles, such as:
- Ensuring that doctors "deliver high-quality care -- and that patients will continue to have access to it;"
- Guaranteeing that "physicians [are] free to order the tests, treatments and procedures they see fit;" and
- Maintaining health IT systems that "safeguard patient privacy."
"Computerizing the nation's medical records could save lives, money and time," Pipes writes, adding, "But it needs to be done right."
She concludes, "Instead of dictating unreasonable -- or even unachievable -- requirements, the federal government must work with health care providers to ensure that new health IT initiatives enhance medical quality, affordability and patient privacy" (Pipes, Contra Costa Times, 6/26).