Health IT

HITECH Act moves healthcare IT industry forward

As I travel the world speaking about the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, I’m often asked to present objective evidence that it is making a difference. Here’s the progress thus far: 1.  The HITECH program has elevated our national consciousness about Electronic Health Records (EHR) and moved the market considerably […]

As I travel the world speaking about the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, I’m often asked to present objective evidence that it is making a difference.

Here’s the progress thus far:

1.  The HITECH program has elevated our national consciousness about Electronic Health Records (EHR) and moved the market considerably forward. Every hospital CEO knows the term Meaningful Use and believes it is an important 2011 goal. On my plane back from Scotland two weeks ago, the person sitting next to me (a scanning software engineer), asked about the impact on Meaningful Use on the scanning software market. With every strategic affiliation BIDMC proposes, the first question asked is how Health Information Exchange (HIE) will support care coordination and the analytics which support the evolving payment models of healthcare reform. It’s clear that EHR and HIE have become commonplace topics of conversation.

2.  State HIE plans require a focus on e-prescribing, electronic lab result messaging, and clinical summary exchange. States will have to report metrics. With publicly reported metrics, you can be sure states will be motivated to accelerate adoption.

3.  Every recipient of federal HIE funds had to create a strategic and operational plan, which is a great step forward. Those plans are publicly available. As Beacon community and HIE success stories become widely known, it’s likely these HIE plans will be revised so that a network of networks connecting state HIEs together will evolve.

4.  Kaiser recently podcast an interview with Farzad Mostashari, National Coordinator, highlighting the progress thus far.

5.   According to the National Health Information Technology Research Center (HITRC), the HIT Regional Extension Centers nationwide have enrolled more than 50,000 Priority Primary Care Providers (PPCPs) to begin the process of achieving Meaningful Use.

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6.  Doug Fridsma notes that Direct Project for health information exchange has support from vendors which constitute 90% of the US IT market share.

7.  For the first time in history, patients are telling me they will not go to a doctor without an EHR, since they view it as essential for quality, safety, and efficiency.

Yes, we’ll need to wait a few more months before concrete numbers on Meaningful Use attestation are available. However, I believe the cultural transformation, leading to widespread support for EHRs in the US, has already happened as a result of the US national healthcare IT efforts.

The author, Dr. John D. Halamka, is chief information officer and dean for technology at Harvard Medical School who writes at Life as a Healthcare CIO.

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