The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act)
The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act) was a part of the stimulus package (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) passed in 2009. The act allocated $27 billion for the government to spend on “meaningful use” of Healthcare Information Technology. The bill created incentives for doctors and hospitals to adopt technology to improve healthcare outcomes. It was primarily created through Medicare, but Congress required “meaningful use” to be defined.
The result was a dramatic shifts in Electronic Health Record (EHR system) adoption amongst providers and hospitals. The EHR adoption increase from 9.1% in 2008 to 42% for physicians in 2012, and from 17% in 2008 to 44.6% for hospitals in 2012.
This was a big problem with paper charts and since most E.H.R.s don’t talk to each other (i.e. not interoperable), ‘meaningful use’ aimed to solve that problem.
It is too early to talk about the impact of Healthcare I.T. on quality and cost. Some early data has suggested there are no big gains/improvements, while leading research think tanks like RAND have predicted big savings. Often other industries have waited 1-2 decades before seeing improvements when they have adopted new I.T.