Don’t dump on the Brits’ Health IT program — they’re way ahead

Last week the Brits canceled their troubled NPfIT program, which lead to lots of crowing over here about our Meaningful Use program and how it’s better. But that crowing reveals two major ignorances. First, most of the money that was spent in the UK was spent on hospital IT systems, especially PACS. It wasn’t necessarily wasted, and it was not comparable to the ONC program — none of which goes to PACS. Second and more importantly, before NPfIT, EMR use among British primary care docs was ALREADY at more or less 100% and had been for the better part of a decade. (Part of) the NPfIT program was about connecting primary care practices together and with hospitals. (One reason it ran into trouble was because it wanted to replace those existing primary care  systems with different ones). Over here about 10% of physicians are using EMRs, and if we’re very lucky we’ll get to about 2/3rds of where the Brits were BEFORE the NPfIT. For sure the Brits have problems, but ours are way worse and we’re starting from much further back.

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