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Questioning the use of prizes to foster health IT innovation

This letter from a SearchHealthIT.com reader suggests that HIT innovation driven through prizes may not deliver the expected return on investment.

Editor's note: SearchHealthIT.com received this feedback in response to the article Three trends that will stimulate health IT innovation in 2012. It has been edited for style but not for content.

I enjoyed reading the piece about the three health IT trends.  Every time the government feels the need to award prizes to get hospitals to shape their business strategy through health IT, it only reinforces for me the notion that the problem the government is trying to shape is a big one -- and one not responsive to prizes.

Take meaningful use, a $20 billion dollar lottery for which few hospitals have purchased tickets. If hospitals truly saw the electronic health record (EHR) as a must-have to meet their individual business strategies, would they not be further along than they are? Hospitals are rushing their EHR implementation to cover the fact that their CFOs have already spent the MU money. The promise of dollars brought about haste, and haste yielded EHR systems that have caused productivity drops in many large hospitals by as much as 20%.

You wrote that experts "hope" certain health IT innovations will bring the industry closer. I am afraid hope makes for a poor strategy, and hope driven through prizes will do little to deliver an ROI on any of a hospitals' $100 million dollar IT investments.

Let us know what you think; email Anne Steciw, Associate Editor.

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