You know the drill. You’re at the doctor’s office for your annual exam, and he or she is busy entering data into a computer. Or you’re at the hospital and the doctors and technicians seem more interested in the gadgets than you. What happened to the stethoscope and the thermometer? Hold onto your paper gown, because medicine is going totally electronic in 3 years. And the new technology is being funded in part by the economic stimulus bill.
Microsoft and others are developing iPhone apps that will allow you to check in with your doctor from home, work, or on the road. There are even ‘labs on a chip’ that will allow instant testing for STDs, diabetes, bacterial infections, and more. So, don’t be surprised if one day very soon, your doctor points his or her iPhone at you and gives you a diagnosis on the spot. One of the newest proponents of electronic healthcare is a small company called Practice Fusion, located in downtown San Francisco. They help doctors convert to these electronic tools that will save billions of dollars over time.
Occupy Wall Street is a big topic these days. Others like the Tea Party blame Obama for the slow economy. Who’s right? With all the news about the ‘failed’ economic stimulus packages these days, a closer look reveals that this kind of cutting edge technology is funded by good old Uncle Sam. The naysayers will see the savings of electronic medicine in the next few years. Here’s a summary that explains how banks weren’t the only ones who received help to move our economy forward.
On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law a $789 billion economic stimulus package, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or ARRA. Included in ARRA legislation is the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, also known as HITECH. HITECH allocates $19 billion to hospitals and physicians to use certified Electronic Medical Records.
HITECH also provides funds for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). Originally founded in 2004, it oversees health information technology standards, implementation strategies and impact assessment. The ONC has set goals for “the utilization of an Electronic Health Record for each person in the United States by 2014” and the development of a nationwide health information technology infrastructure that allows for the electronic use and exchange of medical information.
Fortunately, as HITECH is part of ARRA and not part of Health Care Reform, it is not currently under consideration for repeal by Congress.
© Copyright 2011 Mary Holman. All rights reserved. This article and content may not be republished, rewritten or excerpted.