CTIL is part of Partners Healthcare, which has provided the Obama Administration with its health IT leadership and the heart of its reform agenda.
The key takeaway CTIL wants you to understand is that spending money on health IT is good.
“While the VA historically has spent a higher proportion of its budget on health IT, it has achieved a very high level of HIT adoption when compared to industry norms,” said Dr. Colene Byrne, CITL Senior Analyst, and Principal Investigator of the study.
Dr. Byrne added, “The VHA greatly exceeds industry norms in outpatient electronic health record (EHR) adoption and in selected outpatient quality measures that are reflective of the use of automated clinical reminders. The VA’s quality measures for diabetes care averaged around 16 percentile points higher than private sector benchmarks based on the Medicare population.”
Of course not all spending is created equal. The VistA system is open source -- it was developed as public record software before open source was a gleam in Eric Raymond's eye.
“VA has seen its investment in health information technology pay off for Veterans and taxpayers for many years, and this study provides positive evidence for this correlation,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “The benefits have exceeded costs, proving that the implementation of secure, efficient systems of electronic records is a good idea for all our citizens.”
Open source was not the point of the study. The efficacy of health IT was. The VA simply has a longer record of using health IT than others.
But the question should be asked. Would the results have been equivalent had the study been done on the military's proprietary AHLTA system? Past reports have indicated the answer to that would be no.
So how you spend IT money means as much as whether you spend it. That's the report I'm waiting to read from Partners and from the Obama Administration.