Living in the realm of the 21st century means shaving technology integrated into practically every single domain of a person’s life. The incorporation of technology and healthcare, however, seems to be by far the greatest achievement that the present day IT sphere has to offer. Adopted in 2009, the HITECH Act presupposes financing the U.S. healthcare system for the integration of information technology into its domain, which means that, based on an entirely new principle of management, the U.S. healthcare system will experience a significant growth.
The official statement made by the organization informs that the facilitation of new and improved healthcare services is the key goal of the HITECH Act. The act is supposed to reinforce the use of new tools in order to make the healthcare services delivery faster and more efficient (Oracle White Paper, 2009). Therefore, encouraging healthcare officials for using new tools for more precise diagnosing and more efficient treatment must be named HITECH’s key objective.
As far as the Meaningful Use issue is concerned, HIPAA has set a range of more stringent requirements towards healthcare specialists in order to facilitate a faster and a more efficient adoption of the latest information technology into the field in question. Traditionally, Core Requirements and Menu Requirements are distinguished among the basic demands represented in HITECH. According to the core standards,
- Medication orders must be filed as computer database entries;
- Healthcare specialists must run drug-drug and drug-allergy tests;
- Prescriptions must be handled electronically;
- Information related to demographics must also be filed as computer entries;
- The lists of current healthcare uses must be updated on a regular basis;
- Active medication list must be added to the electronic database and checked consistently;
- Changes in the symptoms that the patients display must be recorded properly;
- The smocking record of patients over 13 years old must be checked;
- One clinical decision support rule is to be complied with;
- The quality of the ambulatory services must be reported to CMS on a regular basis;
- Patients must be given an electronic copy of their medical record;
Information must be transferred from one healthcare member to another in as expeditious manner as possible, with appropriate safety measures adopted (HITECH Act, 2009).The same can be said about the Menu Requirements. These rules are quite binding for healthcare specialists, yet they set the bar for the quality of healthcare services provision. HITECH Act states that the Menu Requirements include:
- Drug-formulary checks;
- Sending reminders and notifications to patients;
- Provision of electronic surveillance data for various public health organizations, etc. (HIPAA, 2009)
The act sets a number of responsibilities for healthcare specialists The HITECH Act manifests the necessity for healthcare officials to promote knowledge regarding major health issues among the target population, as well as non-disclosure of the patients’ personal data (Freedman, 2009).
Despite the obvious improvements, which the incorporation of the HITECH Act into the current system of healthcare is going to lead to, there are a few challenges that need to be taken into consideration when evaluating the efficacy of the specified innovation. First and foremost, the financial issues need to be taken into account. There is no need to stress that the implementation of the aforementioned changes will require a significant financial support for both acquisition of the required technology and training of the staff.
Another major concern, which the inclusion of the HITECH Act principles into the current U.S. healthcare system leads to, is related to the data protection issue. Once the personal information of the patients turns digital, the threat of information leakage and data hacking will emerge. Consequently, the need to design highly secure databases and the digital systems that prevent information leakage will be required. In addition to the concerns regarding the data encryption, the issues of access controls will emerge inevitably.
Finally, the fact that the access to online data will have to be granted top not only physicians and healthcare specialists, but also to a number of patients, will also pose a certain threat of losing control over data security. Though seemingly minor, this issue is also of great significance, since it presupposes dealing with the threat within the system. The role of the HITECH Act, therefore, concerns the improvement of the current healthcare system without a major governmental surveillance of the process. Such a position is admittedly wise, since it provides healthcare authorities with impressive freedom in the choice of their actions.
The significance of HITECH is getting increasingly high with the evolution of technology, which means that the introduction of new technologies into the healthcare system will lead to a drastic and rather positive change in the specified field. With a rapid growth in the efficacy of healthcare promotion programs, it will become possible to raise awareness concerning the health issues and the means of detecting and addressing them among people all over the world. Within five years from now, a significant progress is bound to occur.
Freedman, L. F. (2009). The HITECH Act: Implications to HIPAA covered entities and business associates. Boston, MA: Nixon Peabody, Ltd. Web.
HIPAA. (2009). Meaningful use. Web.
HITECH Act. (2009). Sec. 13101. ONCHIT; standards development and adoption. HIPAA survival guide. Web.
Oracle White Paper. (2009). HITECH’s challenge to the health care industry. Web.