The cheapest way for the federal government to encourage use of health information technology might be to simply require providers to adopt it.

Peter Orszag, director of the Congressional Budget Office, has presented that suggestion in a written version of testimony delivered Thursday at a hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee health subcommittee.

Another approach would be for the government to pay providers who adopt health IT systems more than it pays providers who do not adopt the systems, Orszag says in the written version of the testimony.

The federal government also could subsidize adoption of the health IT systems.

The subsidy approach might not generate any savings for the federal government, and even a small bonus payment for the providers that do adopt health IT systems could be expensive, Orszag says.

A poorly designed bonus program could end up serving mainly to reward the providers that already have health IT systems, Orszag warns.