Monday marked the five-year anniversary of the enactment of the HITECH Act, which allocated $25 billion to increasing the use of electronic health records, Government Health IT reports (Brino, Government Health IT, 2/17).
The HITECH Act, which was included in a larger economic stimulus package, officially created the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and the meaningful use program.
Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.
Health IT Progress
In a blog post, Tom Leary, vice president of government relations at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, highlighted some of progress made since the law was enacted in 2009. For example, he noted that:
Enrollment in the meaningful use program exceeds 93% among eligible hospitals;
EHR use among office-based physicians has increased from 48% in 2009 to 78% in 2013; and
The percentage of acute care hospitals achieving Stages 5, 6 or 7 on the HIMSS Analytics Electronic Medical Records Adoption Model has increased from 11.2% to 37.4% (Leary, HIMSS blog, 2/14).
Meanwhile, the National Partnership for Women & Families in a release noted the HITECH Act has greatly improved patients' access to their health information, allowing many patients to:
- Access health information within hours or days of a clinical visit or hospital discharge;
- Contribute to their health records by emailing doctors with corrections or additional data; and
- View online, download or transmit their own health records.
NPWF noted that the availability of EHRs needs to continue to grow "to ensure that all patients have access to their own health information and all providers have secure [EHR] systems capable of coordinating care across multiple settings."
The group added, "We need to build on the meaningful use program and significantly improve health IT to identify and reduce health disparities" (NPWF release, 2/14).