The political economy of electronic medical records

The VA already has a working system. Why not make that the national standard? (Hint: Think campaign contributions.)

A friend who studies health delivery management for a living reports that the VA has, after billions of dollars and many years of effort, developed an electronic medical information system that (1) saves cost; (2) improves quality; (3) reduces delays; (4) reduces errors; (5) improves patient outcomes and (6, and most surprisingly) is popular with the people doing the work.

So why, in the scramble to develop a set of standards for national adoption, isn’t there active consideration of simply making the VA system the national standard? First, it was developed by the VA, which still has a bad reputation. Second, the technology is in the public domain, which means that none of the firms developing proprietary systems can hope to make money from it.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: