Blog | Thursday, March 12, 2009

Obama should check his facts on EHRs, say Harvard docs

At last week's White House health-care summit, President Obama made electronic health records a cornerstone of his proposal for reform, a move he said could save up to $80 billion a year, among other benefits.

Unfortunately, that's wishful thinking, say Jerome Groopman, FACP, and Pamela Hartzband, FACP, in a commentary in today's Wall Street Journal. (Drs. Groopman and Hartzband, both on the Harvard Medical School faculty, write ACP Internist's Mindful Medicine column). The 2005 RAND study upon which the president based his cost savings predictions was funded by companies that stand to benefit from selling EHRs, they point out, and new information has surface over the past four years that contradicts the study's findings.

"The RAND study and the Obama proposal it spawned appear to be an elegant exercise in wishful thinking," Drs. Groopman and Hartzband write. The two note that they voted for Obama in part because of his "openness to changing his mind when those data contradict his initial approach to a problem." They call for him to apply that kind of scientific thinking to the health care conundrum.