The Healthcare Affordability Act will continue to move forward. If you have not paid attention to it in the past you may be starting to now. Periodically we will take some time to explain key aspects of this law and how it affects you. The HITECH Act is a good place to start.
HITECH is an acronym that stands for the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act. It is part of President Obama’s stimulus package—known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The HITECH Act is designed to fulfill a promise that President Obama made in a speech in which he said: “To improve the quality of our health care while lowering its costs, we will make the immediate investments necessary to ensure that within five years, all of America’s medical records are computerized. This will cut waste, eliminate red tape and reduce the need to repeat expensive medical tests. But it’s not only about saving billions of dollars; it will save lives by reducing the deadly but preventable medical errors that pervade our health-care system.”
To help accomplish this goal, the HITECH Act creates a system of incentives to encourage medical practices to implement electronic health records (EHRs) and penalties for non-compliance. According to HealthIT.gov, “This is the future of health care.” The Department of Health and Human Services has also implemented a campaign to educate providers, professionals, patients, and families on health information technology. They want providers to learn the basics of HITECH; they want to offer patients help learning the benefits of IT as well as how to protect your personal health information (PHI).
All patients (individuals) currently have the right to access their medical health records, but up until now we’ve been limited to a “paper format.” In the very near future, we will all have access to electronic health records. Some hospitals and healthcare providers have already rolled out a system of providing their patients with an electronic version of their protected health information. There are a multitude of reasons you should obtain a copy of your medical records! We will go into all of these in next week’s HITECH blog post about patient access to PHI and your rights. Have you heard of the “Blue Button?” Blue Button is becoming a universal symbol as a way to get easy, secure, online access to your health information. These are all very important developments in our ever-changing healthcare system, so be sure to stay on top of this topic! Read about the latest developments on the HITECH Act and upcoming milestones by staying tuned to our blog.
Check back next week to read more information on the HITTECH Act:
- Tuesday- Dec. 18, 2012: Blue Button & You: 24/7 Access to Your Medical Record
- Friday- Dec. 21, 2012: What Does HITECH Mean for Nurses and Providers?