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Health IT ‘Promises’ and ‘Problems’ in 2011

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Health IT Coordinator David Blumenthal, Photo: hhs.gov

The adoption of health IT, such as electronic health records, stands at a turning point in 2011.

A recent New York Times feature on the burgeoning technology and the policy and policymakers guiding it finds the “promises” and “problems” at a tipping point.

One the one hand, this is the year “when the project really takes off,” The New York Times reports.

But, it’s also a year of increasing belt tightening across the federal government. As a new class of lawmakers is increasingly looking at cutting the budget, some health IT watchers fear this year could see rollbacks in some of the gains made in previous years.

For example, one recent bill would recall unspent stimulus money, “and money for accelerating the adoption of electronic health records could be a target,” The Times reports.

There are glimmers of hope, though. Electronic health records and health IT, in general, have largely been bipartisan issues, and most analysts don’t foresee specific legislation, such as the HITECH Act being overturned, The Times reports.

National Coordinator for Health IT Dr. David Blumenthal acknowledges the huge effort in digitizing healthcare.

“This is a big social project, not just a technical endeavor,” he told The Times.

Even so, recent developments have revolved around the exceedingly technical, including “meaningful use.” Healthcare providers must show how they are adopting the government’s minimum standards for health IT in order to qualify for incentive payments.

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