Center for American Progress

Health Information Technology Belongs in the Recovery Package
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Health Information Technology Belongs in the Recovery Package

Health IT creates jobs that Americans need right now, but it also invests in infrastructure that will continue to help the economy for years to come.

A nurse at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Baltimore uses state of the art technology to scan a barcode before dispensing medicine. (AP/Don Wright)
A nurse at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Baltimore uses state of the art technology to scan a barcode before dispensing medicine. (AP/Don Wright)

There has been rampant misinformation about the health information technology provisions that are included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Senate Finance Committee and others have successfully refuted these false claims.

What’s needed now is a reminder of why it is so important that Congress invest in health IT as part of the economic recovery package. As President Obama has said, investment in health IT “creates jobs right now for people to convert from a paper system to a computer system, but it also pays a long-term dividend by making the health care system more efficient.”

Why does investment in health IT belong in the economic recovery package?

  • Investments that will create jobs now and support needed long-term infrastructure are exactly what we need for economic recovery. Based on experience in Massachusetts, the bill’s investment is projected to create over 200,000 jobs in training health personnel, running health systems, and producing hardware and software.
  • The funding for health information technology in the recovery package is both an important stimulus and a down payment on broader health care reform.

Why do we need this federal investment?

  • Many primary care offices and even institutions find it financially challenging to make the initial expenditures required to modernize the delivery of care. Less than 25 percent of hospitals and fewer than 20 percent of doctor’s offices currently employ health information technology systems. Federal investment is needed to jumpstart the system, moving it in the right direction.

Why do we need health IT?

  • As every patient knows, today’s health care system is rife with duplication, complication, and sometimes fatal medical errors. Researchers have found that implementing health IT would improve health outcomes by providing health professionals and patients with better information, and supporting doctors in making clinical decisions together.
  • Investing in health information technology will slow the growth in health care costs. Timely and accurate information will increase efficiency and, according to the Rand Corporation, can produce annual savings of $40 billion over a 15-year period.

More from CAP on Health IT:

Report: Navigating American Health Care: How IT Can Foster Health Care Improvement

Book: The Health Care Delivery System: A Blueprint for Reform

Numbers: Room for Progress: Health IT by the Numbers

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