Comparison With British National Health System EMR Implementation

I’ve been really amazed at the number of people I’ve heard talking about the HITECH Act bringing in a “new age of EHR” and other similar phrases. Then, I usually consider who’s been saying it and I realize that their pocketbooks are going to be lined with money from the HITECH Act and EHR adoption. So, I take it with a grain of salt.

Instead, I like to look at examples to help me better understand what might happen with the $18 billion Obama’s planning to spend on EHR adoption. The best example I know of comes from the British National Health System. It’s certainly not a perfect match, but should open our eyes on government funded EHR systems.

The Examiner (San Francisco) provided an interesting editorial on Britain’s National Health Service’s HIT systems implementation:

Britain’s NHS, who have been trying to get their HIT system to work properly for the past 5 years. The cost of NHS’ HIT has escalated to 6 times the original estimate — the U.S. equivalent of $18.4 billion — to serve just 30,000 physicians in 300 state-run hospitals, a fraction of the health care providers in the USA.

HIT is such a mess that Leigh recommended funding alternative systems if matters don’t improve within the next 6 months.

A large 2003-04 study of 1.8 billion ambulatory patients discovered that the use of electronic health records provided no difference in 14 of 17 quality-care indicators, produced significantly better care in just two and worse care in one.

And, a summary of 33 studies done in Europe between 1985 and 2009 found that HIT actually causes a significant number of medical errors.

Definitely cause for concern since Britain has spent $18.4 billion on a MUCH smaller health care system. Looks like Obama should have applied his “down payment” principle to HITECH Act’s $18 billion towards EHR too.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

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