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Healing America: Electronic Health Records Continue to Shape National Initiatives


Malvern, Pa., Feb 1, 2006, The following is a statement from Thomas McCausland, president, Siemens Medical Solutions USA Inc., a world leader in health information technologies (IT), in response to the State of the Union Address given on January 31, 2006

As we heard in last nightís State of the Union Address, the accessibility and cost of healthcare are among the most pressing concerns for Americans. A challenge in addressing these issues is a lack of efficiency throughout our healthcare system. For example, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that approximately 20 percent of medical tests (e.g. radiology, lab work, etc.) need to be re-ordered because the clinician never received the original results. And up to 30 cents of every healthcare dollar is spent on administrative costs, rather than on delivery of care.

A key to increasing efficiency throughout the healthcare continuum will be the adoption of an interoperable electronic health record (EHR), a need identified by President George W. Bush in his call to establish a national EHR within 10 years. To dramatically change the healthcare system from paper-based to electronic-focused will take time and financial support. We believe that partnership between the government and private sector will move this initiative toward its goals, and we applaud the President for his commitment of $61.7 million for the Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology (ONCHIT) in 2006. Clearly, the groundwork is in place, but there is more that needs to be done.

For example, offering exemptions to laws that prohibit hospitals from providing IT systems to local physicians would increase IT adoption, and allow hospitals to extend networks to their communities. Currently, only about 17 percent of physician practices are automating health information - not because they donít see the value, but because cost and time for implementation are barriers. The success of a national EHR requires that all healthcare providers, including smaller physician offices, be connected.

The interoperability and widespread adoption of innovative healthcare IT solutions are essential for the future of our healthcare system. At Siemens, we embrace the challenge to innovate in this area and we look forward to taking another step in the journey toward building the 21st century healthcare system each of us deserves.


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