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Health Information Technology

Hospitals are leaders in the adoption of health information technology (HIT) to improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of care delivered to patients. HIT encompasses a broad range of tools – from electronic health records (EHRs) that document and help facilitate patient medical encounters to portals that allow patients and caregivers to access important medical information. These technologies allow health professionals to access real-time information quickly and securely while also creating a more transparent health care system for patients. The development of a digital health care infrastructure through the implementation of EHRs and investment in HIT is critical to achieving a higher-performing, better coordinated health care system.

Medicare & Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs (Meaningful Use) and Certification

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which passed as part of the 2009 stimulus legislation, included provisions to provide incentive payments to eligible hospitals (and eligible medical professionals) that adopt and demonstrate "Meaningful Use" of certified EHR technology. CMS administers the Medicare EHR Incentive Program and state Medicaid agencies manage the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.

Additionally, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) administers the Certification program, which ensures that EHR technology meets the functional criteria to enable hospitals and other eligible providers to comply with the EHR Incentive Programs.

Interoperability

The HITECT Act was successful in significantly increasing hospital adoption of certified EHRs. It has been less successful, however, in achieving its second objective: interoperability. The exchange of health information among providers and the sharing of information with patients is critical to improving the quality and efficiency of care delivered to patients. Hospitals recognize that interoperable EHRs and other health information technologies are a critical tool to allow the right information to be in the right place at the right time, whether in the Emergency Department or upon admission to a post-acute facility. Health IT also can facilitate greater access to critical information for non-clinicians, empowering patients (and their caregivers) to assume a more active role in their health care.

The FAH is committed to improving health information exchange and routinely engages with public and private sector partners to identify and address barriers to interoperability.

Privacy & Security

Protecting patient privacy and ensuring the security of patient information within EHRs and other HIT systems is a top priority for hospitals. The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 is enforced by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This law sets strong national standards for privacy and security compliance. With the expanding use of HIT and mobile technology in health care, hospitals are steadfastly committed to building strong defenses against cybersecurity threats. We are working with public and private sector partners to ensure robust threat detection and response for all of our patients.