Thursday, January 5, 2012

Wiring the Health System — Origins and Provisions of a New Federal Program

From the essay (Part One of Two): "In February 2009, the U.S. government launched an unprecedented effort to reengineer the way the country collects, stores, and uses health information. This effort was embodied in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which was part of a much larger piece of legislation, the so-called stimulus bill. The purpose of the stimulus bill, also known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), was to stimulate the economy and prevent one of the worst economic recessions in modern history from becoming a full-fledged depression. Congress and the Obama administration took advantage of the crisis to enact programs that might spur short-term economic growth as well as promote scientific and technical advances with potential long-term benefits for the American people. In the health field, one such program involved a commitment to digitizing the U.S. health information system. The HITECH Act set aside up to $29 billion over 10 years to support the adoption and “meaningful use” of electronic health records (EHRs) (i.e., use intended to improve health and health care) and other types of health information technology…. This report discusses the original justification for the HITECH Act, its major provisions, and some of the early challenges associated with its implementation. In interpreting this report, readers should be aware that I served as national coordinator for health information technology in the Obama administration from April 2009 until April 2011." Read more

See Also Part Two:
Implementation of the Federal Health Information Technology Initiative
David Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.P., New England Journal of Medicine 2011; 365:2426-2431, Dec. 22, 2011