Health-care hit or miss

When most people think of health care reform in the United States, they think of President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But an earlier law may prove more transformative: the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which was part of the economic stimulus bill and is beginning to take effect.

The focus of the Act is to provide up to US$27 billion in incentives for professionals and hospitals to achieve ‘meaningful use’ of electronic health records.

This means not only installing computers in physician’s offices and hospital wards, but also using them to help achieve the five goals of the American health care system: improving quality, safety and efficiency; engage patients in their care; increased coordination of care; improving the health of the population; And ensure privacy and security.

Eligible professionals will receive $44,000–$66,000 and hospitals $2 million–$9 million between 2011 and 2018. Like other areas of technology and health care, the United States has lagged behind in the adoption of electronic health records.

Less than 30% of US primary care physicians use them, compared to near-universal adoption in developed countries including the United Kingdom, Denmark and New Zealand. The HITECH Act is an opportunity for the United States to catch up.

The act also includes an additional $2 billion for organizational infrastructure; $677 million to establish 62 regional centers for technical assistance and general assistance; $60 million for four collaborative research centers to develop best practices for collecting and using electronic health information; approximately $250 million for 17 ‘Beacon’ projects showcasing innovative technologies in communities; and $118 million for college and university-level programs to train the 50,000 or more biomedical informatics and health-informatics managers needed to implement and support the system.

The potential result is not only in promoting a general level of health, but also in the data available for research. For example, it will help to compare the effectiveness of tests and treatments in a real-world setting.

Such data should enable the health care system to become more ‘intelligent’. The act works in synergy with the Institute of Medicine’s ‘Learning Health Care’ initiative: a program launched in 2007 to look at the growing amount of data captured to see which health care strategies work and which. C no. The program has funded $1.4 billion for ‘comparative effectiveness research’ for those face-to-face health care comparisons.

Collectively, these efforts provide a vision of a health care system that learns from its successes and mistakes. Some elements of the HITECH Act experiment may fail, but in the end, the health care system should benefit from this unprecedented investment by becoming more data-driven and adaptable.

The HITECH Act aims to promote the meaningful use of electronic health data by healthcare professionals, not by patients. This is a missed opportunity.

Research shows that when people have the right to access and interpret their health information and data, and to engage in shared decision-making with their physician, they make more meaningful and informed choices. Despite talking about its importance for years, such consumer empowerment does not yet exist in the United States.

Today, it is nearly impossible to get access to your own health data in an easy to understand format, even for those who have some knowledge about health matters, are well educated and have access to their physical or There are no cognitive limits. Although good health information is increasingly available online, it is difficult to reach people who do not speak English as a first language, or who face other barriers such as disabilities.

As long as doctors remain the key decision-makers and the sole source of information about healthy living and treatment options for patients, there will be people who do not take responsibility for their own health.

And until the necessary technical tools are available to promote collaborative decision-making, the cost of disseminating information about healthy living will remain high, and doctors will continue to experience immense pressure on their time.

The HITECH Act may actually widen the divide between those who manage their own health and those who delegate all responsibility to doctors. There is a chance to do better.

The act provides funding for research: some of it should be earmarked specifically for patient-accessible technology. More attention should be paid to the development of devices designed for use by patients, as opposed to electronic health records designed for physicians.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *