Voters want to cut federal investment in health IT

Public education campaign may be needed to protect health IT funding, PwC says
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More than four out of 10 voters said the government should reduce its investment in health IT to help rein in healthcare costs, according to a post-election survey conducted by PwC's Health Research Institute.

The results suggest government and the health IT industry should join forces to educate the public about the long-term benefits of health IT, PwC says, including the anticipated return on the $28 billion taxpayer investment driving healthcare's technology revolution.

Reducing federal investment in health IT ranked second among priorities for cutting healthcare costs among the 1,202 voters surveyed. While 50 percent say reducing payments to hospital and doctors should be one of two top priorities, 42 percent cite reducing health IT investment as one of their top priorities.

Meanwhile, only 9 percent say electronic health records and mobile health should be one of President Obama's priorities for the U.S. healthcare system. Top priorities for the healthcare agenda include reducing the cost of care and government's role in healthcare.

"Consumers see the value of research and development but not health information technology investments--consumers in the HRI survey supported reductions in HIT spending as a way to trim the deficit, but want to protect R&D," PwC concludes. "The industry faces a challenge in articulating the case for technology investment."

They also face potential political opposition, at least for any federal government role in promoting the value of health IT.

Earlier this month Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee subpoenaed U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to explain whether the agency improperly used taxpayer dollars for a "big guerilla campaign splash" promoting health insurance exchanges and other elements of healthcare reform.

HHS has inked at least $20 million in deals with PR firms, including a $3 million contract to promote health insurance exchanges.

EHR incentive payments aren't part of the reforms mandated by the Affordable Care Act, but growing congressional criticism signal potential challenges for PwC's suggestion that government partner with industry to promote health IT.

To learn more:
- download the survey (registration required)

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