Health Information Technology

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 health care providers to adopt HIT more rapidly so they can better assess the value they receive from their health care dollar.

The 2007 Texas Legislature passed a bill to create the Texas Health Services Authority (THSA), a public-private partnership to promote and coordinate the electronic exchange of health information throughout the state. THSA is in the early stages of identifying sources of financing and programs and efforts it should support.

The federal government also initiated a program in 2007 to provide incentives to primary care practices to use HIT. TMA joined with other health care stakeholders to submit a statewide application to leverage federal funding for electronic medical record systems for primary care physicians.

Due to the high cost of HIT systems, funding is a continued concern for many physicians. While some federal grants may become available, sources such as hospital systems and insurance company programs may be more realistic in the near term.

Many other barriers to HIT adoption need to be addressed. One is the federal and state requirement that physicians handwrite on the prescription "brand medically necessary" when they want the patient to receive a specific product. This makes electronic prescribing almost impossible. 

Medicine's 2009 Agenda

  • Support efforts by THSA to develop infrastructure and programs that help physicians obtain HIT.
  • Support standards that ensure that software developed for and promoted by hospital systems is able to share and transfer patient information easily with physicians.
  • Remove barriers to the adoption of such HIT tools as electronic prescribing.

Medicine's Message

  • Physicians want to prove that they are providing quality medicine, and they know that an HIT infrastructure would advance this.
  • With many physicians struggling to keep their practices financially viable, government and private payers must provide financial incentives to help physicians acquire HIT. Many physicians have little incentive and limited resources to invest in expensive technology now. 
  • With the price of electronic health record systems in the tens of thousands of dollars, physicians must be convinced that whatever software they choose will be interoperable with other HIT systems before they will invest in this technology. 

Impact of Health Care Stimulus on Health Information Technology


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