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Another Day, Another NY Times Story Critical of EHRs

February 20, 2013
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Story suggests that healthcare joining the digital era is really just a boondoggle to enrich software developers

Just three days ago I wrote a blog item pointing out how many New York Times articles in the past year presented a skeptical view of the transition to electronic health records from paper. And what do we find on the front page today but another story that implies that healthcare joining the digital era is really just a boondoggle to enrich software developers who gave money to the Obama Administration.

I think this article — either intentionally or unintentionally — sets up some false cause and effect relationships for the uninformed reader. It makes no mention of why the shift to electronic records is necessary. Or why the EHR incentives were necessary because the marketplace had failed to deliver these changes without regulatory prods.

The article finds that sales are up at EHR vendors who lobbied for the incentives, and it implies that increasing those sales and the salaries of its executives was the sole purpose of the exercise. Was World War II  fought solely to enrich gunmakers or the interstate highway system built only to enrich building contractors and automakers?

Then the article quotes one doctor who finds his experience with the Epic system at his hospital “mediocre.”  So what?

Then it finds smaller EHR vendors to criticize the legislation for favoring large EHR vendors. As we have seen from interviewing CIOs, it is market trends and consolidation that are favoring larger, integrated systems.

The article doesn’t quote anyone at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT about the real motivation for the program. As Farzad Mostashari, M.D., likes to say to doctors reluctant to adopt EHRs: “How about we just stop killing so many people?”





Thank you for your excellent blogpost! You hit the nail on the head here. It is frankly appalling that this particular reporter got the core story of HITECH so wrong. It will be very important for our readers, when interviewed by the mainstream media, to make sure that their comments are informative, balanced, and contextual; meanwhile, mainstream media reporters need to get the story right every time, as this is important to our entire society. Thank you again for your excellent commentary.