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Commentary

Why we must invest in electronic medical records
Bill Frist, The San Francisco Chronicle, 7-24-05

Senator Frist (R, TN) makes the case that higher quality health care is within our grasp if America invests more in electronic technologies that can help make patient treatment more transparent and effective:

…when the New England Journal of Medicine used 11 measures to compare VA patients treated in the VA's own hospitals with Medicare patients treated in a mixture of private and public hospitals, the VA's patients were in better health and received more of the treatments professionals believe they should. According to the VA's own medical professionals, a computer system called Vista is the key to their success. "I'm proud of what we do here, but it isn't that we have more resources," explains Stanford Garfunkle, the director of the Washington VA Medical Center. "The difference is information."

While the VA has invested a lot in its computer system, most hospitals, clinics and doctors haven't invested enough. Among America's important economic sectors, health care spends the smallest percentage of its revenue on information technology -- only about 3 percent. Industries such as banking spend 10 percent or more.


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