National Coordinator on Capitol Hill

National Coordinator for HIT Farzad Mostashari M.D., appeared before the Senate Committee on Finance on July 17th to discuss the progress of health IT. He testified that as of May 2013, more than 293,000 eligible professionals and over 3,900 eligible hospitals have received payments from Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs.

This represents nearly 80 percent of eligible hospitals, over half of physicians, and other eligible professionals. Overall adoption of EHRs more than doubled in office practices and more than quadrupled in hospitals between 2008 and 2012.

Analyses of nationally representative surveys of office-based physicians and non-federal acute care hospitals show that there has been strong and steady growth in both physician and hospital adoption of EHR technology to meet Meaningful Use objectives. As of May 2013, more than 220,000 of the nation’s eligible professionals and over 3,000 of the nation’s eligible hospitals have achieved the requirements for Stage 1 Meaningful Use.

Mostashari pointed out that in Stage 2, both hospitals and eligible professionals will be required to send a summary of the patient’s record electronically to the next provider of care following transition of care to a new provider or care setting.

Eligible providers will also be required to communicate with patients through secure messaging and make patients’ health record information available to them electronically. Eligible providers will need to provide a way for patients to view, download, and transmit their own health information to share with others.

States have made progress with HIE programs. ONC’s State HIE Program is working with each state to plan and implement an approach to promoting information exchange that is tailored to each state’s circumstances and resources.

However, there are still a number of barriers to health information exchange. Currently sharing health information during transition of care among providers is limited. For example, a 2012 Commonwealth survey of primary care physicians in the U.S found that less than one in four physicians are notified when their patients visit emergency rooms and less than half receive information needed to help manage their patient’s care within 48 hours after discharge from the hospital. Furthermore, only 16 percent receive information from specialists regarding changes made to their patient’s medication or care plan.

Consumers are taking their health into their own hands. Through the use of mobile technology, consumers are able to track their health through a smartphone app or a remote monitor, participate in online patient or caregiver communities, and access their medical records online.

Today, mobile devices help to remove traditional barriers such as geography and time, help break down the digital divide in underserved communities, enable remote treatment, and facilitate more continuous health monitoring.

Mostashari summed up by saying that health IT and mobile applications offer great promise to transform the way healthcare is delivered. However, although this work is well underway, we must carefully balance the need for the widest innovations possible by protecting the patient in terms of privacy, security, and safety.

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