Examining Effect Of Health IT On Quality Of Care

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Issue brief examines the effect of health IT on quality of care and 'inconvenient truths' about US health care system. NEJM perspectives also examine proposals to slow health care spending growth, effect of individual tax subsidies on low-Income residents.

* "Health Information Technology: More Than The Money," Alliance for Health Reform: The issue brief, written by Alliance health policy associate Deanna Okrent and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, examines the quality-improvement aspects of health IT and barriers to wider adoption of the technology. The brief also includes contact information for health IT experts and a list of online resources (Alliance for Health Reform release, 10/22).

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* "Slowing the Growth of Health Care Costs -- Learning from International Experience," New England Journal of Medicine: In the perspective, Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis discusses how the U.S. spends twice per capita of what other major industrialized countries spend on health care, but it is the only country that does not provide near-universal health coverage. According to Davis, the U.S. "has been slow to learn from countries that have systematically adopted policies that curtail spending and enhance value." She writes, "Without serious commitment to change, health spending as a percentage of the gross domestic product will rise from 16% currently to 20% by 2017; and Americans without adequate insurance and access to essential services will continue to suffer avoidable health consequences." Davis concludes, "What is required is national leadership and commitment to moving toward a high-performance health care system" (Davis, NEJM, 10/23).

* "Three 'Inconvenient Truths' About Health Care," New England Journal of Medicine: In the perspective, Victor Fuchs, a professor emeritus of economics at Stanford University, discusses three "inconvenient truths" about health care: If the current growth in health care spending continues, health care expenditures will absorb a proportion of the gross domestic product that "exceeds that of current government spending for all purposes combined"; that "[a]dvances in medicine are the main reason why health care spending has grown ... faster than the rest of the economy"; and that "[u]niversal coverage requires subsidies for the poor and those too sick to afford insurance at an actuarially appropriate premium," as well as "compulsion for those who don't want to help pay for the subsidies or who want a 'free ride'" (Fuchs, NEJM, 10/23).

* "Targeting Subsidies: Employers versus Individuals," Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: In the analysis, Linda Blumberg, a principal research associate at the Urban Institute, and John Holahan, director of the institute's Health Policy Center, discuss how individual subsidies for health coverage likely would be more efficient than subsidies for small businesses. According to Blumberg and Holahan, individual subsidies have important advantages because they can be targeted at low-income people; will lead to less displacement of private spending; and can be provided equitably among people with similar economic circumstances (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation release, 10/22).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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