Can Electronic Medical Record Systems Transform Health Care?

Potential Health Benefits, Savings, and Costs

Published in: Health Affairs, v. 24, no. 5, Sep./Oct. 2005, p. 1103-1117

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2005

by Richard Hillestad, James H. Bigelow, Anthony G. Bower, Federico Girosi, Robin Meili, Richard Scoville, Roger Taylor

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To broadly examine the potential health and financial benefits of health information technology (HIT), this paper compares health care with the use of IT in other industries. It estimates potential savings and costs of widespread adoption of electronic medical record (EMR) systems, models important health and safety benefits, and concludes that effective EMR implementation and networking could eventually save more than $81 billion annually--by improving health care efficiency and safety--and that HIT-enabled prevention and management of chronic disease could eventually double those savings while increasing health and other social benefits. However, this is unlikely to be realized without related changes to the health care system.

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