Things like the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) and Affordable Care acts are designed to not only make health care more affordable but also make it more efficient.
That’s what Luis Alvarez, president and CEO of Alvarez Technology Group, talked about with Rebecca Costa of the Costa Report during one of their weekly discussions.
“The HITECH Act is already changing the way doctors and patients interact, said Alvarez.
Alvarez went on to explain that a significant portion of the $18 billion dollars that legislators invested in the HITECH Act was allocated to accelerating the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) to make health care delivery better and more efficient, which would reduce the overall cost of health care.
Alvarez also pointed out that doctors spend millions of dollars on technology like diagnostic equipment (ultrasound, x-ray machines, etc.), but balk at the idea of spending money on technology to improve the storage and transfer of patient records.
Electronic health records would replace the bulky medical files that patients see in doctors’ offices today. Having records electronically stored would facilitate sharing between primary care physicians, specialists, surgeons, etc., and reduce the amount of duplicate records. EHRs could be transferred across town, the state, the country, maybe even the world.
People would also have more access to and control over their electronically stored health records if those records. Alvarez suggested that people should also be allowed to have control over who else has access to their health records.
Electronic health records are less vulnerable to theft than physical records. Despite reports about health care computers getting hacked and important data stolen, it’s far easier for someone to steal or lose a file folder. In addition, the HITECH and Affordable Care acts have strict regulations regarding the protection of electronic health records and severe financial penalties for organizations that fail to keep patients’ information secure.
Finally Alvarez and Costa talked about personal health records (PHRs), which would be similar to Microsoft’s Health Vault. Health Vault gives people a place to store and organize their personal health information. Personal health records would facilitate taking control of health information. PHRs would also help emergency room physicians to more effectively treat patients, particularly those who are unconscious or unable to answer important questions.