Orszag: Health IT Tools 'Central' to Enhancing Value in Care Delivery

In a Bloomberg opinion piece, former White House Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag writes that the "rapidly digitizing" U.S. health care system offers benefits for patients and health care providers.

The 2009 economic stimulus package set the stage for a "substantial expansion in health IT" and will create a "digital revolution ... central to improving value in health care," Orszag writes. Under the stimulus package's HITECH Act, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

As an example, Orszag -- the current vice chair of global banking at Citigroup -- writes about Partners HealthCare System in Boston, which by 2009 had all of its physicians using EHRs and a clinical decision support system that "gives doctors computerized help in assessing the best tests and treatments for their patient."

Orszag writes, "The IT interventions appear to have been effective at reducing imaging rates across the board."

He adds, "In places where the technology is used to compare doctors' practices, bolster adherence to evidence-based medicine, examine what techniques are working best and reduce error rates, [health IT] can be quite beneficial."

Orszag notes that technological advances -- such as tablet computers -- also have paved the way for increased use of health IT use because of their convenience.

"[T]he early success of the HITECH Act is a refreshing reminder of what sensible policy can accomplish," Orszag concludes (Orszag, Bloomberg, 8/16).

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