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Health Care Reform Has Already Happened – Through Health IT Reform

Much of the attention in the mainstream press surrounds the ongoing health care reform debate. The emotions have run hot at times as the debate and legislative process continues. With all the focus on health care reform, a simple fact may be overlooked – healthcare IT reform is already well underway.

The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) [1] was passed in February 2009, and included in the Act is a provision called Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act or HITECH [2]. It is law, although many of the details are still being defined.

HITECH [3] is driving significant changes in healthcare by providing incentives for implementation and Meaningful Use of certified Electronic Health Records (EHRs).

Given this, is HITECH really reforming health IT or just muddling it?

View Point One: HITECH is reforming health IT.

Healthcare data standards are no longer just a framework for data exchanges; they now are a necessity. HITECH is driving healthcare standards [4] to a new level of intense focus and use. Although there are still many healthcare standards, they are being narrowed into action. Through implementation guides, healthcare standards are being shaped into usable templates to achieve Meaningful Use. Healthcare organizations can no longer afford to ignore healthcare standards and rely solely on paper exchanges. HITECH has changed the economics of healthcare standards adoption and use.

View Point Two: HITECH is muddling real changes in health IT.

The new Federal incentives under HITECH are not focused on real change. Change the model by placing more information in the hands of the consumers and then watch sustainable changes occur in healthcare.


Additional Resources on HITECH: