Health Care Trends: Bumps and Misconceptions on the Road to EMRs
The road to building a national system of electronic medical records took a hit at the end of 2007 when a Harvard study came close to declaring that regional health information organizations (RHIOS), an essential component of EMRs, were are major failure. But the bleak picture that this study presents should only be considered as a single part of a much larger undertaking.
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The US recession isn't going to slow the push for electronic health records. In fact, the current crisis may actually be helping the initiative, which seeks to have an EHR for every person in the country by 2014. Although most of Washington embraces this task, the main question has been how much the government should spend to get electronic records in the hands of physicians. That question has now been answered with the passage of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which allocates $20 billion for health information technology.
As health care increasingly becomes a high-tech industry, hospitals are undergoing a transformation of necessity, and facilities are doing their best to keep up with state-of-the art tools that alter the way business is conducted. When new technology is mentioned, issues surrounding the development of electronic medical records, or the latest medical devices, easily come to mind, but there is something going on in hospital materials management departments that is as important and will have as big an impact on the industry.
Many providers now willingly accept that information technology tools can be as valuable and necessary as the medical devices and drugs they use to treat patients. However, barriers still remain in adopting the technology. Costs and interoperability are the leading reasons why getting IT projects approved and implemented is still an uphill push.