On November 30, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a new press release meant to address the state of health information technology and its use in today's medical facilities. According to the release, the adoption of new technologies – such as electronic medical records software, tablets and medical billing software – has doubled since 2009.
In addition, the government agency reiterated some of the benefits of healthcare IT that have been proven in clinical studies, such as how it can improve access to patient care, reduce costs and allow facilities to better coordinate treatments.
One of the biggest announcements came in regards to electronic medical records adoption. HHS said that programs that did not make the switch in time to qualify for past meaningful use incentives could benefit by taking the initiative on this measure next year. Facilities that have yet to participate in the program, will now be able wait until 2014 to begin and still qualify for the same benefits. This measure was enacted as a way to improve EMR adoption rates.
"When doctors and hospitals use health IT, patients get better care and we save money," said Secretary Sebelius. "We're making great progress, but we can't wait to do more. Too many doctors and hospitals are still using the same record-keeping technology as Hippocrates."
However, the agency was also quick to note that medical facilities can still adopt EMR software before 2012 as a means to qualify for these incentives, which can mean thousands of extra dollars for budgets provided the facility qualifies for the Medicaid and Medicare EHR Incentive Programs.