Anthony J. Pennings, PhD

WRITINGS ON DIGITAL STRATEGIES, ICT ECONOMICS, AND GLOBAL COMMUNICATIONS

Healthcare IT and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

Posted on | December 11, 2011 | No Comments

Within weeks of his inauguration, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, abbreviated ARRA, as part of a $787 billion stimulus package to help revive the ailing economy.[1] The nation was teetering on the edge of economic ruin brought on by the repercussions of a highly leveraged global securitization and credit default scheme that had collapsed with the inflated housing market. The Act has been criticized by the Left as too small and by the Right as a gift basket for the US Congress, but the legislation did push a number of technological initiatives. One of the most important designated $19.2 billion towards an interoperable, standards-based infrastructure for the secure exchange of electronic health care information and medical records (EHR or EMR) among doctors, hospitals, laboratories, pharmacies, and healthcare research facilities.

The initiative got its start in the Bush Administration with a 2004 executive order creating the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology as part of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) headed by then-Secretary Michael O. Leavitt (See video above). It was only funded at $60 million a year though, and the legislation never received congressional approval. The program engaged in only preliminary planning with its report, The Decade of Health Information Technology: Delivering Consumer-centric and Information-rich Health Care that called for a ten-year plan to develop a Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) of health care providers. This network would connect regional health information organizations (RHIO) with regional health information exchanges (RHIEs) both of which would integrate clinical and public health data via electronic health record systems (EHR-S) with the goal of improving patient safety and delivering quality health care. It specified four objectives:

  • Bringing information tools to the point of care, especially by investing in EHR systems in physician offices and hospitals.
  • Building an interoperable health information infrastructure, so that records follow the patient and clinicians have access to critical health care information when treatment decisions are being made.
  • Using health information technology to give consumers more access and involvement in health decisions.
  • Expanding capacity for public health monitoring, quality of care measurement, and bringing research advances more quickly into medical practice.[2]

With the Obama administration’s ARRA stimulus program, particularly the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act or HITECH Act, the diffusion of health information technology and the protection of the privacy and security of medical records were legislatively codified. It secured the national coordinator position and office, providing it with some $2 billion for discretionary spending, primarily for grants and loans to research and implement health related information and communications technologies.

To rush money into the economy, much of it was offered through “immediate funding” via federal agencies and grants to states, including a loan program to help providers purchase EHR systems as well as related training and technical support. It established two related federal advisory committees – on standards to design a system of networked and interoperable electronic health records – and on policies to protect patient privacy and security. Together they work with the private sector and consumer groups to develop the specifics of a health information network to permit the ready exchange of certified electronic health records and other data while protecting patient privacy.[3]

The HITECH Act also allocated $17.2 billion in Medicare and Medicaid financial incentives for physicians and hospitals to implement Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems. Participating physicians could earn between $44,000 to $64,000 over the following five years for utilizing an electronic record system, providing they make
“meaningful use” of the installation. This included use of certified EHR technologies with electronic prescribing capability meeting Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) guidelines: connectivity to other healthcare providers providing interoperable access to a patient’s health history; and the capability to report to the HHS on how they are using the technology and its effectiveness; including less errors, clinical decision-making support, alerts and other reminders.

Postscript

Whether the “stimulus package” saved the country from the economic abyss of the Great Recession will require a historical accounting of its positive economic impact on employment, GDP and inflation. The economic stimulus package was mistakenly derided as a failure as unemployment fell from 8% to 5% by the end of the Obama administration. However, its influence on health care will require examining costs, mortality counts, patient care, and the overall well-being of the populace. As the 2012 elections for US President heated up, “Obamacare,” the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) got most of the attention. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 propelled a number of technological initiatives and its impact on the deployment of health information and communications technologies deserve a separate analysis.

Notes

[1] The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. H.R.1.
[2] Quoted from “DHHS Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).” Public Health Data Standards Consortium PHDSC – Promoting Standards Through Partnerships. Web. 11 Dec. 2011.
[3] Steinbrook, M.D., Robert. “Health Care and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.” N Engl J Med 360 (2009): 1057-060. March 12, 2009, 12 Mar. 2009. Web. 11 Dec. 2011.

Share

Anthony

Anthony J. Pennings, PhD has been on the NYU faculty since 2001 teaching digital media, information systems management, and global communications. © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Comments

Comments are closed.

  • Referencing this Material

    Copyrights apply to all materials on this blog but fair use conditions allow limited use of ideas and quotations. Please cite the permalinks of the articles/posts.
    Citing a post in APA style would look like:
    Pennings, A. (2015, April 17). Diffusion and the Five Characteristics of Innovation Adoption. Retrieved from http://apennings.com/characteristics-of-digital-media/diffusion-and-the-five-characteristics-of-innovation-adoption/
    MLA style citation would look like: "Diffusion and the Five Characteristics of Innovation Adoption." Anthony J. Pennings, PhD. Web. 18 June 2015. The date would be the day you accessed the information. View the Writing Criteria link at the top of this page to link to an online APA reference manual.

  • About Me

    Professor and Associate Chair at State University of New York (SUNY) Korea. Recently taught at Hannam University in Daejeon, South Korea. Moved to Austin, Texas in August 2012 to join the Digital Media Management program at St. Edwards University. Spent the previous decade on the faculty at New York University teaching and researching information systems, media economics, and strategic communications.

    You can reach me at:

    anthony.pennings@gmail.com
    anthony.pennings@sunykorea.ac.kr

    Follow apennings on Twitter

  • Traffic Feed

  • Recent Posts

  • Pages

  • RSS CNN.com – RSS Channel – App Tech Section

    • New lifesaving drone rescues swimmers
      A new lifesaving drone has been used to rescue two teenagers from the rough seas off the coast of Australia's Lennox Head, New South Wales.
    • Untitled
      Two swimmers were in serious trouble off the coast of Australia, until a drone came to their rescue.
    • Untitled
      All stories start somewhere, and the story of the driverless car begins in a research lab in Pittsburgh, where Carnegie Mellon University Professor Red Whittaker was one of the first to develop a fully autonomous driving machine.
    • Untitled
      The programs controlling driverless cars are computers, after all, and all computers are hackable.
    • Untitled
      More than 1.25 million people die every year in auto accidents. Driverless cars could change that.
  • January 2018
    M T W T F S S
    « Dec    
    1234567
    891011121314
    15161718192021
    22232425262728
    293031  
  • Crossword of the Day

  • Disclaimer

    The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of my employers, past or present.