Commonwealth Fund makes big push for health IT

Amazing what the promise of a little $20 billion can do.

Patients in hospitals with top-flight IT systems are more likely to live and less likely to suffer complications than those without it.

Oh, and the hospitals save money.

Thus concludes a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which The Commonwealth Fund is now flogging to make the case for lots of health IT spending in the coming stimulus bill.

Critics will note that those hospitals with great IT are also likely to be the largest research hospitals, which normally have the best outcomes anyway. But in a blog post Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis insists IT is the "key lever" in transforming the system.

The post, co-written with Kristof Stremikis, says the U.S. has fallen behind its trading partners in health IT, but that spending "must also be coupled with strong commitments to performance improvement."

In other words, you get the computer but you also get the reform or it won't work.

Further evidence that logjams are being broken through the promise of big health IT spending is a new paper from the Center for Democracy & Technology suggesting that the current focus on patient consent be replaced by control of its use in marketing and research.

 "Requiring consent for all data sharing in health care will only overwhelm patients, leading them to give blanket consent and providing very weak protection," said Deven McGraw, director of the Health Privacy Project at CDT.

Amazing what the promise of a little $20 billion can do.

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