Under the HITECH Act of 2009, the Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record (“EHR”) incentive programs provide a financial reward for the meaningful use of qualified, certified EHRs to achieve health and efficiency goals. In July, CMS announced regulations outlining the initial requirements that eligible health care providers must meet to demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology for the Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments program, which CMS will administer. Also in July, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology announced regulations completing the adoption of an initial set of standards, implementation specifications and certification criteria to enable the testing and certification of EHR technology for meaningful use.
The HITECH Act has resulted in changes to HIPAA, which has sparked some privacy concerns. For example, HIPAA is being revised to prohibit disclosure of information to a health plan IF the patient requests, and the bill has been paid in full out of pocket, and the disclosure is unrelated to treatment. The Patient Privacy Rights Foundation has developed a form for private pay patients to use, available here.
The Institute of Medicine is now planning a one-year study of health information technology (“HIT”) safety. The study focuses on a comprehensive range of patient safety-related issues, including prevention of HIT-related errors and rapid reporting of any HIT-related patient safety issues. It will make recommendations concerning the potential effects of government policies and private sector actions in maximizing patient safety and avoiding medical errors through HIT. The Institute of Medicine’s panel met for the first time on December 14, 2010 in Washington.
The New York Times published an article on December 13, 2010 regarding varous viewpoints on HIT safety.