See article and link from MIT Tech Review of interview with the new National Coordinator for Health Information Technology ...
In a landmark government effort to drive American health care into the information age, the February 2009 stimulus bill earmarked about $30 billion in incentives for doctors and hospitals who install electronic medical records—paying up to $63,750 to individual physician and millions to hospitals.
Now comes the tough part: implementing "EMRs" and proving they really can reduce medical errors or get doctors to keep better track of chronically ill people. As National Coordinator for Health IT, Farzad Mostashari coordinates federal efforts to promote adoption of EMRs and to prod reluctant hospitals to share patient data.
Mostashari was recruited to take over the federal effort in February, after leading a patient-records initiative as an assistant health commissioner in New York City. He spoke with Technology Review's chief correspondent, David Talbot, about when we'll start seeing evidence that the technology is working.
TR: What problems are we attacking with this huge medical IT outlay?
Mostashari: Start with "First, do no harm." Right now we do harm to patients through health care. The estimates, conservatively, are 100,000 to 200,000 people killed each year by things like hospital-acquired infections and adverse drug events. Electronic medical records provide an opportunity to create standardized protocols, to provide decision-support and reminders for doctors, and to tell them about the patient's medications and drug allergies, as well as any dangerous drug interactions, at the point of care. Those are all proven interventions.
Read on at: http://www.technologyreview.com/business/38475/?p1=BI