About Health Information Technologies
It is widely believed that the adoption of health information technologies (HIT) and effective health information exchange (HIE) are needed tools for improving and transforming our health care system. With the significant burden of health care costs on state budgets, the imperative to improve the quality of health care delivery, and the likelihood of accelerated investments to be made in health information technologies, it is essential that state leaders be informed on the key issues involved and strategies that might be used to effectively leverage investments in these technologies for health system improvement.
A number of efforts are underway to help determine appropriate strategies to support the adoption of HIT tools such as electronic health records and personal health records. Many of the quality and efficiency benefits associated with these technologies, however, are dependent on the ability to share critical health care information between relevant stakeholders. Electronic HIE aims to facilitate access to and retrieval of health care data to provide safe, timely, efficient, effective, equitable, and patient-centered care.
On February 1, 2009 President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). This act provides stimulus funds for health care automation to enhance care coordination; reduce costs and improve quality. ARRA programs should improve HIT adoption by providing federal funds to expand broadband access, establish HIT Regional Extension centers to provide technical assistance and support “meaningful use” of Electronic Health Records (ERHs), establish state-wide HIE capacity to enable connectivity between and among health care providers, and allow providers to use EHR within their practices.