Do health IT investments help bottom line?

You'd get a lot of "maybes" and a fair sprinkling of "no's" if you asked that question at many medical facilities, according to an outstanding piece in the Detroit News that focuses on General Motors and its frustrations with its healthcare providers' inefficiency and reluctance to use the latest IT tools. "Hospitals have only so much capital to invest," notes Henry Ford Health System CEO Nancy Schlichting. "If it's between improving facilities, medical technology and EMR (electronic medical records), EMR often loses. You immediately get a revenue stream from a new CT scanner. With EMR, it may take years." Other factors may not be helping IT's cause in healthcare. "In every other sector, when IT is introduced (and services improve), people pay more," said Mark McClellan, director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. "But in health care, you're paid more if there are more complications and you provide more services. If payments drop when you provide better care, it's difficult to convince providers to invest in IT."

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