Regardless of political leanings, I think we all breathed a sigh of relief when the presidential election came to an end. Everyone, especially those in the battleground states, was tired of the constant ads and politician speech that seems to get more heated with every election.
The end of the election brought relief in other ways as well, particularly with regards to healthcare. For most of President Obama’s first term of presidency, there’s been a lot of uncertainty regarding healthcare reform. While the HITECH Act has been the most popular component of Obamacare—most, regardless of political party, agree that electronic health records need to be utilized throughout the country—there has still been some uncertainty regarding which health IT initiatives would continue once the election was over.
Thankfully, the future is clearer today than it was even a week ago. Dr. Farzad Mostashari, national coordinator for health IT, is determined to roll forward aggressively with meaningful use and other health IT programs. The momentum has already been established, and it’s important that that momentum continue.
The Republican-led House may try to cut some of the funds set aside for meaningful use incentives, but the HITECH Act, which includes the EHR incentive program, can’t be repealed by executive order. Further, with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the argument for keeping the incentive program is even stronger, so it is highly unlikely that government will take away the incentives set aside for EHR adoption.
Most doctors have already switched over to electronic health records. We have clients that have been using our software for over a decade. Now, with the hesitation regarding health IT programs virtually eliminated, we expect that more providers will make the switch to digital office technology, helping our nation achieve the goal of every patient having an EHR by 2014. There is still much work to be done in order for this to happen, but we’ve made a lot of progress over the last several years, and with the momentum the industry has already established, healthcare should see some significant positive changes over the next few years.