Since healthcare is one of the critical infrastructures in the United States, the government’s consistent policy interventions are geared towards ensuring quality care that will meet the market demand. The adoption of the Health Information Technology or Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) is part of the federal government’s quest to improve the quality of healthcare, increase its accessibility and affordability. Along with the health information technology (HIT), these attributes are crucial in enhancing safety, improving coordination, engaging family members, and maintaining patient health information. However, realization of these objectives depends on proper implementation of electronic health records (EHR). Therefore, to acquire financial assistance, hospitals must comply with the directives, requirements, and objectives set by healthcare regulating bodies, such as Center for Medicare and Medicaid.
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My Nursing Home Organization
As a nursing home affiliate, I believe the HITECH is a massive introduction in the healthcare industry, especially considering its financial input. Cases of financial constraints are quite common a nursing home. These constraints limit the hospital’s ability to provide quality care to patients. As an organization limited on funds, the financial incentives provided by the introduction of the HITECH have significantly contributed to implementation of the electronic health records, a vital directive to protect patient information from unauthorized access (Brown, 2010). Most importantly, the EHR has also led to the reduction of costs. Given the EHR’s ability to promote quality care, facilitate management of costs, and ultimately increase patient safety, the HITECH Act has certainly contributed to achieving the ultimate goal of ensuring quality care, patient safety, and reduction of costs.
Upon implementation of the EHR, I have noticed a significant reduction in the administrative costs, particularly in the department where I work. The EHR is capable of interpreting of data, hence reducing workload in such a department. Medical errors have also reduced considerably due to reliance on the EHR to read and interpret data. Therefore, cutting down on the human errors, which often leads to patient’s death, has also been witnessed on a large scale (Begum et al., 2013). On the other hand, I have repeatedly heard and witnessed the overall implementation of the EHR ending up costlier than first projected. This is due to the need to purchase complementary technologies. When the company is forced to purchase another piece of software to enhance the functionality of its initial technology, it increases the cost, albeit with the potential to improve patient outcomes (Kemfert & Reese, 2011). Despite going through this experience, my hospital chose Cerner since it was proven to be effective.
Financial incentives put in place through adoption of the HITECH Act offer a platform to implement health information technology. Through this incentive, physicians are challenged to conduct tests on the utilization of systems and patterns to determine whether they meet the demands provided in the Act to qualify for financial assistance. Meaningful use is another closely related aspect that greatly determines the implementation of the Health Information Technology. Meaningful use is guided by five initiatives that include enhancing patient safety, improving quality of patient care, ensuring safety of patient health information, improving coordination, and engaging family members. In the contemporary world, quality healthcare is a function of all these aspects.
Incentives for Adoption of Health Information Technology
Pay-for-performance initiative combines rewards early on, followed by penalties at later stages. The logic revolves around providing sufficient time for physicians to implement electronic health records. Ideally, the approach seeks a complete transformation in the healthcare system through speedy implementation of the EHR. Participation of physicians in the Medicaid or Medicare program resonates with a general Medicare incentive program. Physicians eligible for Medicare program who do not adopt the EHR prior to 2015 could also be punished to a tune of 3%. Therefore, implementation of the EHR has presented the biggest opportunity for the avoidance of the penalties.
The implementation of the Electronic Health Records has greatly impacted quality of patient care through providing access to patient health records. In other words, through gathering information, healthcare providers can see what others have documented, which enables them to offer the much-needed assistance and guidance on their clinical decision-making. Previously, crucial pieces of patient health records could be misplaced or lost altogetherб leading to miscommunication and the potential to provide wrong diagnosis and subsequent prescription (Brown, 2010). The implementation of the EHR eliminates the chance that some parts of the information can get lost, thus preventing miscommunication.
Summary of the Article “The Journey to Meaningful Use of Electronic Health Records” by John Murphy
The push to pass and subsequently implement two of the Acts that went on to define healthcare industry in the United States was founded on the country’s two sectors hit by a crisis; the economy and the healthcare sector. The Health Information Technology Act and its corresponding American Recovery and Reinvestment Act became law in 2009. Commonly known as the “the Recovery Act” or “the Stimulus Bill,” the legislation allocated $787 billion and $147 billion for economic recovery and the healthcare sector respectively (Murphy, 2010). More profoundly, $19 billion from the $147 billion were allocated for financial incentives geared towards driving reforms by advancing health information technology. It was also confined to adoption of electronic health records within a period of 5 years. These incentives primarily revolved around the fact that healthcare providers would have to purchase and implement EHR systems and HIT (Murphy, 2010). The HITECH Act equally provided for clear penalties imposed beyond 2015 for hospitals that would have failed to adopt and use the EHR in a meaningful way.
Health Information Technology and Meaningful Use
Nurses are integral in the eventual realization of compliance with the HITECH Act in implementation and adoption of the EHR and HIT systems. The article supports the idea that nurses remain integral to the nationwide effort to successfully implement the EHR systems. Integration of the latest technological practices in the hospital settings demands a substantial input from nurses. This is because nurses are always in close contact with the patients and will therefore be best placed to understand the details that determine the success of the technologies introduced. Secondly, despite the hospital choosing to use its expert analysts to gauge the technology’s compliance with patient needs, nurses make an early diagnosis and are strategically located to offer insight into technological compliance.
Financial incentives through concrete budgetary allocations further indicate the drive towards meaningful use. Patient care and safety underpin the quest to ensure meaningful use. However, inadequate use of financial resources undermines this objective. The article’s emphasis on budgetary allocations forms the basis for commitment to realization of the meaningful use (Murphy, 2010). Furthermore, punishment for healthcare providers who are unable to switch to electronic healthcare records equally highlights the commitment by the management of healthcare system in the United States.
Healthcare providers play a crucial role in the overall implementation of the policies for improving quality of healthcare, patient safety, and coordinating activities within healthcare facilities. However, their role requires them to observe legislation such as the HITECH Act, which involves electronic healthcare records and healthcare information technology. These two aspects guide the quest for quality patient care, determination of the viability of the healthcare incentives, and management of the available financial resources . Allocating funds and empowering nurses to take active part in the healthcare industry indicates a move towards complete implementation of electronic health records, a defining aspect for the next phase of healthcare in the United States.