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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I can save....what ??!!!

I serve as a non-paid consultant for a collaborative group attempting to initiate a regional health data exchange.

I've been on the scene beginning in 2005 when ONCHIT was initiated by then President George Bush.  Despite my enthusiasm and positive attitude I have seen relatively little progress, with few isolated successes on a limited basis.  Lots of talk but little data exchange taking place. 

There are many reasons for this, however I digress. Today's post is about the illusion of savings and the disparity between gains among specialists vs. primary care practices. 

Technology can be a wonderful thing, if it truly serves you. How about a 70" flat screen in a small bedroom....get the idea, a bit of an overkill.  Specialists seem to enjoy high tech...after all that is why they became specialists with scopes, micro surgery, electronics, imaging, and even telemedicine. It even seems closer to basic science, which is where most of us started.

How many of us have bought some special item for our practice, with much enthusiasm and soon it was gathering dust because we were too busy to use it.  Two or three years down the line you may still be making payments and your read about version xxx which obsoletes your 'anchor' sitting in the corner. (or under a desk.) 

In the process of consulting I have observed the theme of

consultants coming, going and moving on to the next project.

Having been away from my 'group' the past years I saw that there had been some movement toward the 'goal'.  There were 25 intersted potential stakeholders. Their next goal was to raise 100,000 dollars to pay a chosen consultant to plan and implement a health data exchange for our region.

I thought to myself, some progress.  Then I had a sinking feeling, here we go again!  They were going to pay 100,000 dollars for their 'skin in the game'. Not one piece of hardware, software or data exchange.   We can postulate how much that will cost.

Two of the three consultants had conflicts of interest, and one was an unbiased well known national authority on these matters.

There are serious doubts about improving efficiency and a negative return on investment.

Paul Roemer has an interesting analysis of incentives, ROI in a careful breakdown of your individual practices. 

The EMR Equation: Break-even Point for Meaningful Use


Especially useful is the "Productivity Calculator". Perhaps  biased and/or self serving  by it's sponsor SRS. it gives one the ability to run your own analysis of what EMR will do to your bottom line.

If you are beginning to feel like we are on a merry- go- round,


then watch this video:


Writing this blog is so much fun....even if no one reads it.