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Blumenthal Touts Health IT ‘Robust Innovation’ before Departure

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Dr. David Blumenthal, Photo: hhs.gov

National coordinator for health IT Dr. David Blumenthal, who announced last month he would return to academia, said successful efforts over the past two years to get healthcare providers on board with electronic health records mean the initiatives will be in good hands even after he steps down.

On top of that, the push for health IT has spurred innovation, he said, mentioning in a recent Health Affairs conference, the 280 companies developing and offering more than 450 certified electronic health record products.

Beginning with an infusion of $30 billion for health IT investments in the 2009 stimulus act, efforts — including hammering out a definition and guidelines for meaningful use of EHRs, the stand-up of more than five dozen regional extension centers and increasing numbers of tech adopters — have “create[d] a powerful new market,” Blumenthal said at the conference, according to a report in The Hill.

“Here is a little microcosm of robust innovation in a market created by the new federal program,” he explained.

Meanwhile, a government study published this week offered a rosy view of EHR adoption at the end of Blumenthal’s departure. The study, published in the medical journal, Health Affairs, shows that health IT has benefited healthcare providers across the board, including smaller practices, according to a Government Health IT article.

While previous studies have purported to spell doom for EHRs, those surveys were completed before the initiatives had had time to mature, Blumenthal, one of the authors of the study, said.

Dr. Donald Berwick, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the study validates national health IT efforts.

“These new findings are very significant in helping to confirm that our nation has made the right choice in moving aggressively toward adoption of health information technology,” he said.

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