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Healthcare IT Adoption Important part of McCain, Obama Health Care Proposals

Posted Oct 10 2008 2:10pm

Watching the US elections and the upcoming debate between Vice Presidential condidates this evening I read an article earlier today stating that both candidates are committed to a health IT agenda. For those interested, I have posted a link to the more detailed Commonwealth Fund report that dissects these proposals and the potential implications. These are pre-election statements and converting statements to policy is a completely different challenge.

What is interesting is that Obama's health care plan would allocate $10 billion annually for five years to help physicians and other health care providers adopt health IT. After the initial five years, Obama would commit federal funding to phase in physician adoption requirements.

A $50 Billion investment in healthcare IT in the US to support physician and end-user adoption is significantly greater proportionally than any commitment that has been made in Canada. While provincial programs such as POSP in Alberta, OntarioMD and PITO in BC have committed upwards of $350 million to assist physicians in the adoption of healthcare IT and Electronic Medical Records, there has been very little direct support from the federal government to support physician adoption. In fact, the 2007 request by Canada Health Infoway to obtain approximately $650 million (1/90th of what is being suggested by Obama in the US) from the federal government to assist with physician adoption of EMRs and change management services was not accepted.

I believe that it is time to step up to the plate in Canada and for the federal government to support the provincial strategies just as is being proposed in the US. The $1.6 Billion that has been committed by Canada Health Infoway to assist provinces with infrastructure is almost completely dedicated and expended.

Now that we have some super-highways to drive on (infostructure), and some fuel (data), how about investing in some cars (EMRs) to support physicians and provide access to the super-highway? 

"The health care reforms proposed by presidential contenders John McCain and Barack Obama have broader adoption of health IT as a major component. But each would set the U.S. health system on very different paths, according to a new report by the Commonwealth Fund. “The 2008 Presidential Candidates’ Health Reform Proposals: Choices for America” estimates that greater adoption of health information technology could save the country $88 billion in a 10-year period. However, those savings are based on the assumption that the detailed plans offered by the next president will “have real teeth,” said Karen Davis, the organization’s president and one of the report’s authors. Link: Report dissects McCain, Obama health care proposals.

To access the Commonwealth Fund evaluation, Click Here

What are your thoughts? Should there be more support nationally for physician adoption of technology in Canada?

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