Tags: Healthcare Reform | HHS | Tech Update | Healthcare | technology

HHS Plans Huge Tech Update of Healthcare Industry

By    |   Tuesday, 09 Dec 2014 11:03 AM

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has unveiled a plan for a massive update of technology in the nation's healthcare industry, which will make techno-geeks virtually equal partners with doctors and nurses in the future of medicine.

The five-year plan, released by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (NCHIT) with input from 35 federal agencies, will massively increase the use and sharing of medical information between healthcare centers and the use of telemedicine through telecommunications methods to remotely monitor patients, The Washington Post reports.

Bob Booz, a Gartner analyst, told the Post, "It’s a strong sign that technology is an important part of the healthcare equation. It is no longer simply about physicians, hospitals, patients, and purchasers. It’s about technologists."

The draft plan, when adopted, will represent "a coordinated and focused effort to appropriately collect, share and use interoperable health information to improve healthcare, individual, community and public health, and advance research across the federal government and in collaboration with private industry," NCHIT notes.

National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo told Health Beat, "With this updated plan, the federal government signals that, while we will continue to work towards more widespread adoption of health IT, efforts will begin to include new sources of information and ways to disseminate knowledge quickly, securely and efficiently."

The key word is "interoperable," meaning enhanced connectivity between healthcare providers, hospitals, payers and other agencies concerned with healthcare, with the extended development of a web of interconnectivity as a followup to the last five-year plan, issued in 2011, which provided incentives for hospitals and physicians to upgrade their use of technology in health care, the Post reports.

Quoting HHS, the Post noted, "In 2010, 25 percent of physicians’ offices and 15 percent of acute-care hospitals were using electronic health records (EHR), according to that report. Four years later, hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals and several thousand hospitals are receiving incentive payments" for upgrading their use of electronic health records.

"Information is the lifeblood of medicine, and improving the availability and uses of health information is foundational for enhancing the modern healthcare system’s efficiency and effectiveness," HHS noted in a report this year to Congress.

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 provided incentives for hospitals and other medical professionals to upgrade their use of technology and, the report notes, "In 2013, 59 percent of hospitals and 48 percent of physicians had at least a basic EHR system" and, as of June of this year, 75 percent, or 403,000, eligible professionals and 92 percent, or 4,500, eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals had received incentive payments."

HHS will accept public comment on the new plan until Feb. 6.

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has unveiled a plan for a massive update of technology in the nation's healthcare industry, which will make techno-geeks virtually equal partners with doctors and nurses in the future of medicine.
HHS, Tech Update, Healthcare, technology
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2014-03-09
Tuesday, 09 Dec 2014 11:03 AM
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