Health information technology (HIT) has tremendous potential to improve the quality of care, prevent medical errors, and streamline health care delivery systems. Government and employers are pushing physicians and other providers to adopt HIT quickly so they can better determine the value received for their health care dollar.
State and federal lawmakers have taken steps to improve Texas’ HIT landscape. The Texas Legislature in 2007 created the Texas Health Services Authority. The program received $28 million from the Office of National Coordinator to oversee health information exchange development and expansion in Texas. In 2009, legislators created the Medicaid Health Information Exchange pilot. Texas also recently received a grant to add four regional extension centers to help primary care physicians with electronic medical record (EMR) selection, implementation, and achievement of meaningful use.
More opportunities now exist for HIT expansion in Texas. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act authorized bonus incentives up to $63,750 for physicians participating in Medicare and Medicaid who adopt and meaningfully use EMRs. The new federal health law also paves the way for accountable care organizations, which need extensive HIT infrastructure. The law relies heavily on data collection from physicians to assess quality improvement and make peer-to-peer comparisons.
Medicine’s 2011 Agenda
- Support measures that protect patient privacy and consent.
- Support measures to improve HIT without adding more burdensome paperwork to physicians that detracts from patient care.
- Prevent third parties from collecting clinical data and using it for punitive purposes.
- Support interoperable and robust HIT systems that accommodate all payers in the health care system.
- Support initiatives that eliminate barriers to physician implementation and use of EMRs and electronic prescribing.
- TMA supports the development of a strong HIT infrastructure in Texas to improve patient care.
- The privacy of patient information must be protected to maintain the integrity of the patient-physician relationship, reduce duplication of services, and improve the quality and cost effectiveness of care.
- Physician and medical practice acquisition of HIT benefits patient care, practice efficiency, and coordination of care, and integrates the clinical and business aspects of a medical practice. Private payers stand to gain from these system efficiencies and should be encouraged to step forward and match the government incentives for physicians acquiring HIT systems.