Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House, weighed in on electronic health records on Monday in an article he co-authored for MDNews.com. Gingrich, and co-author Jeff Kao, who is general manager of NCR Healthcare, a member of Gingrich's Center for Health Transformation, write that the meaningful use definition the federal government asks doctors and hospitals follow when purchasing an electronic health record system, should also be applied to patients. Specifically, EHRs should be developed with a meaningful use for the public.
As health care reform takes hold, reducing costs will be a critical barometer of success. Administrative costs currently account for 7 percent of health care expenditures each year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. As an estimated 34 million previously uninsured Americans begin to access our health care system, these costs are is [sic] likely to grow if technology doesn't offset the increased volume. Automating routine health care transactions by allowing patients to pre-register, schedule appointments and pay bills how and when it is most convenient for them can significantly reduce administrative costs while streamlining the anticipated increase in patient flow.
Getting patients engaged up front may also help minimize consumer skepticism of adopting electronic health records. According to a recent Harris Interactive survey, only 26 percent of respondents said they want their medical records digitized and 40 percent believe they will result in more efficient care delivery. Giving patients greater access to and control over managing their health information can allay those concerns while supporting the ultimate objectives of an EHR, which are to enhance the efficiency and quality of care, by improving the accuracy of patient data, and creating a truly paperless workflow.