Utah, Arizona in Health Record Pilot Program

Published May 1, 2009

Utah and Arizona have begun participating in a Medicare-centered personal health record pilot program sponsored by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Medicare beneficiaries and their physicians will have electronic access to up to two years of personal Medicare claims data without the usual paper trail.

Experts said the effort to move health records from paper to pixels is a worthwhile one, but they cautioned it would succeed only if prices drop as a result. That, they said, will take place only if the move is driven by the private sector.

“One of the things that we need to be careful with in these pilot programs is [to make sure they are allowed to create] efficiency for physicians and patients so that costs can go down,” said Byron Schlomach, chief economist at the Goldwater Institute. “It’s interesting that in the history of mankind, whenever you have improvement in technology costs go down. The only exceptions I’ve ever seen are in health care and education.

“What makes them a special exception? Government,” said Schlomach. “When government gets it hands on anything, the cost always goes up.”

Colleen Watson ([email protected]) writes from California. Joe Emanuel ([email protected]) writes from Georgia.