The air is now crisp, most of the leaves have fallen, and it won’t be long until that white stuff is on the ground! The change that is occurring outside is very representative of all the changes that are happening in the healthcare field. Over the past several years most of us have become familiar with the term HIPAA, which stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The major goal of the HIPAA Privacy Rule is to assure that an individual’s health information is properly protected while allowing the flow of health information needed to provide and promote high quality health care.
HIPAA was really the first of many steps in what is now considered healthcare reform. HIPAA practices have been fully implemented in almost every healthcare office for several years, and it is now time to move on to the next phase, “meaningful use” of Electronic Health Records (EHR). Those of you that have been in the office to see Dr. Zaporski or myself within the last few months will have noticed that we are asking a few new questions when you arrive for your appointment as well as in the exam room. These questions are a result of us doing our part to enable and support healthcare reform by participating in the “meaningful use” of Electronic Health Records (EHR).
In 2009 the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) was passed as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The HITECH Act states that health care organizations must achieve “meaningful use” of Electronic Health Records (EHR) by 2015. The HITECH Act was created to help in healthcare reform by taking full advantage of the cost saving opportunities that EHRs make available by a more efficient and safe exchange of patient medical information via secure web portals, to which only the patient and the patient’s healthcare providers have access.
The ability to securely and efficiently exchange information will help reform the healthcare system by eliminating the cost of duplicate testing by giving all of a patient’s healthcare providers access to the same records. Dangerous and expensive errors that occur in treatment due to misread paper charts will be eliminated and patients will be the direct beneficiaries due to improvements in their care. Although the end result of the HITECH act will be advantageous to both patients and healthcare providers, the steps necessary to achieve “meaningful use” are vast and the process will be long. We are working hard to make all of the improvements occur behind the scenes and have as minimal of an impact on your experience in our office as possible.
Luckily, we saw the benefit of EHRs long before they were commonplace, and Metro Eye has used EHRs since we opened in June of 2003. Due to our early adoption of this technology, becoming compliant with ”meaningful use” of our EHRs will be much less cumbersome for us than for many healthcare providers. I will keep you up to date as changes occur over the next several months, but if you should have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask myself or one of the Metro Eye team members during your next visit to the office.
I wish each of you and your families very happy Thanksgiving, and I look forward to seeing you soon.