In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, Stephen Soumerai -- a professor of population medicine at Harvard Medical School -- and Ross Koppel -- a professor of sociology and medicine at the University of Pennsylvania -- argue that claims by the federal government and health IT vendors that electronic health record adoption will curb health care costs are "little more than hype."
Soumerai and Koppel note that the 2009 federal economic stimulus package offers incentive payments to encourage health care providers to adopt EHR systems. They write that health IT supporters "promised that these technologies would make medical administration more efficient and lower medical costs by up to $100 billion annually."
However, a recent review of scientific literature analyzed nearly 36,000 studies on health IT adoption and "found no evidence from four to five decades of studies that health IT reduces overall health costs," Soumerai and Koppel write. They add that such research "contradict[s] the widely broadcast claims that the national investment in health IT ... will pay off in reducing medical costs."
Soumerai and Koppel write, "We fully share the hope that health IT will achieve the promised cost and quality benefits," adding, "But this will require an accurate appraisal of the technology's successes and failures, not a mixture of cheerleading and financial pressure by government agencies based on unsubstantiated promises" (Soumerai/Koppel, Wall Street Journal, 9/17).