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AARP, Business Roundtable and SEIU Deliver Endorsed Health IT Principles to Congress

“Divided We Fail” Campaign Seeks to Reduce Medical Errors by Setting Firm Timeline for Adoption of Health IT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: AARP Media Relations, 202-434-2560, media@aarp.org

AARP, Business Roundtable and SEIU, which together represent more than 50 million Americans, today took another groundbreaking step for their "Divided We Fail" group by jointly delivering endorsed principles for health information technology (IT) legislation to Congress.

The three groups, which launched the "Divided We Fail" campaign earlier this year, urged Congress to address health IT immediately in order to increase safety and efficiency in the country's health care system. The groups believe that Health IT will also be a critical building block for broader health reform.

"Health IT is about bringing safety and efficiency to our health care system," said AARP CEO Bill Novelli. "People seeking treatment have enough to worry about; if we can alleviate the fear that an error will occur, we need to try to do that. A secure, uniform, interoperable system that works for patients and providers will save time, stress and money. We look to Congress to set a firm timetable for its implementation so we can begin saving lives and resources as soon as possible."

"We can make our healthcare system more efficient and cost effective, and implementing a uniform, interoperable health IT system is the clear first step," said John Castellani, president of Business Roundtable. "The digital age has transformed virtually every other sector of the economy; it is time to bring the tremendous benefits of technology to our health care system by enacting health IT legislation."

SEIU President Andy Stern commented, "With the involvement of frontline nurses and other caregivers, HIT holds the promise to improve patient safety, reduce administrative costs, and allow caregivers more time with patients. HIT can transform health care for the benefit of those who deliver it and those who need it."

In 2005, a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that as many as 98,000 Americans die each year because of medical errors. In that same year, more people died due to medical errors than from Alzheimer's, HIV, automobile fatalities, suicide, homicide, or hypertension. An Institute of Medicine study published in 2000 estimates that medical errors cost the nation about $37.6 billion each year; about $17 billion of those costs are associated with preventable errors.

A 2005 RAND study estimated that if most hospitals and doctors' offices adopted health IT, the potential efficiency savings for both inpatient and outpatient care could average over $77 billion per year. The largest savings come from reduced hospital stays (a result of increased safety and better scheduling and coordination), reduced nurses' administrative time, and more efficient drug utilization. Widespread adoption raises the potential savings to $165 billion annually.

Further, if all hospitals had a health IT system that warned of possible drug interactions and dangers, around 200,000 adverse drug events could be eliminated each year, at an annual savings of about $1 billion. Health IT can also aid with disease prevention and chronic-disease management. The RAND study found that with health IT supporting these programs, between 15,000 and 27,000 deaths from pneumonia could be prevented.

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