The HITECH Age can be considered to have begun on February 17, 2009 when the HITECH Act was incorporated into the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Depending upon your method of calculation, there is between $19.2 billion and $46 billion available to facilitate the 'meaningful use' of electronic health record technology within the next 5 years.
This has significantly changed the view that EHR technology is a luxury, and the new message is clear: EHRs and other health information technology will be all but an absolute necessity to practice medicine in the near future. However, the path to this transition is still unclear. There are major roadblocks. One obstacle is the Federal government's yet to be defined conditions of 'meaningful use,' which will modify many definitions of EHR success and failure.
While a physician may qualify for $44,000 in recovery funds, he or she must demonstrate 'meaningful use,' a still undefined concept. The definition is late to arrive to the HITECH scene, and may affect those who fail or succeed by federal definition. Is it a failure if, after adopting an EHR that streamlines your workflow and allows you to run a more efficient office, you are still unable to obtain the expected $44,000 in Federal stimulus funds?
The question of how an EHR will be evaluated for success and failure will need to be answered by each individual within a practice. Unfortunately, a number of practices may fracture when measures of success and failure are answered differently by different participants. Therefore, defining EHR success and failure by each practice stakeholder is a pre-requisite to such determinations, and one could argue that this evaluation should serve as the foundation for EHR product decision making. This article will provide some guidance regarding how one can analyze this issue, provide specific examples, and offer advice on how to maximize the probability that you will be involved with EHRs in a successful manner.
First, let's examine the conditions surrounding the 'HITECH' Age.
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