Thursday, June 11, 2009

Is Health IT the Root of Healthcare Reform?

Is Health IT the root of healthcare reform? Obama plans to establish a Reserve Fund of over $630 billion to finance healthcare reform over 10 years. Will health IT revolutionize healthcare? Will it reduce healthcare costs?

During the HIMSS Virtual Conference & Expo, there was a great educational session titled, "The Intersection of ARRA and Healthcare Reform." The presenter was Dave Roberts, MPA, FHIMSS.

"This session will provide the latest federal health IT policy updates from Washington, D.C., from our unique vantage point ’inside the beltway’. Learn about the latest evolving developments around the recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 legislation and how newly proposed Healthcare Reform legislation might impact our industry and your way of doing business."

Here are some interesting facts to consider:
  • 2016, we will be spending over $4 trillion on healthcare.
  • over 40% suffer from chronic illness
Obama is setting aside $20 billion for health IT and calling that the "foundation for healthcare reform." If you're wondering how most of that $20 billion is going to be divided, here are the biggest pieces of the pie:
  • $2.5 billion for distance learning, telemedicine, and broadband
  • $1.5 billion construction, renovation, HRSA
  • $1.1 billion for comparative effectiveness research (CER) within AHRQ, NIH, and HHS
Incentives for "meaningful use" will be provided through these 2 major sources: 1) Medicare; and 2)Medicaid. Are you still wondering what "Meaningful Use" means? Mark your calendars! On June 16, the federal government will release the definition of "meaningful use." Here's what we know what "meaningful use" will involve:
  • Certified EHR technology (what does "certified" mean?)
  • Information exchange
  • Report information required by the government
However, now we have even more questions: Within the ARRA, what does "certified" mean? Will the CCHIT (Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology) serve as the only certification body? In order for an EHR to be certified according to the ARRA, it must meet the following broad criteria:
  • Provide clinical decision support
  • Support CPOE (Computerized Physician Order Entry)
  • Capture and query information relevant to health care quality
  • Exchange and integrate e-health information with other sources
So where does this leave us? Will health IT serve as the foundation for healthcare reform? I believe that it will play a significant role and we're only seeing the tip of the iceberg right now.

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