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When doctors and hospitals use health information technology (IT), patients get better care and we can all save money. This results in less paperwork for billing, medical records, and prescribing; easier coordination of care among doctors, nurses, and pharmacists in hospitals and outpatient settings; and better reporting on quality of care. Thanks to President Obama’s leadership, the number of physicians using this important technology to help patients get better care and save money has more than doubled, from 17 percent to 34 percent, since 2008. And we can’t wait to do more.
Today, Secretary Sebelius announced that we are making it easier for doctors and other health professionals to adopt health IT and receive incentive payments that were made available under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. At the same time, we remain vigilant in ensuring your health data remains private, confidential and secure.
Here’s how it works:
During her visit today to Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland OH, Secretary Sebelius will also release new 2011 CDC data that show that over half of office-based physicians say they intend to take advantage of the incentive payments available for doctors and hospitals that meaningfully use health IT. That’s impressive progress, but we know we can do more to improve the health care system through the use of health IT.
And we know that health IT can have a real impact on the lives of patients nationwide. The Sacramento Business Journal recently reported on one way health IT is improving care:
Evelyn Lyons gets up hungry and wants to eat — but is supposed to check her blood sugar first.
Daily testing was hit-or-miss until she agreed to take text messages at 7:30 every morning to remind her do the test, record the results and take her medicine.
Lyons is participating in a pilot program that helps diabetes patients and their doctors at Sacramento Family Medical Center manage a chronic condition that affects one in 12 Americans. It’s about one in seven at Sacramento Family Medical, which operates nine clinics in the region that serve patients on Medi-Cal, the government health care program for the poor.
Launched in August, the program has had a few bumps along the way, but it’s beginning to change behavior.
“I’m glad to be part of it,” Lyons said. “Before, I wasn’t taking it as serious as I should.”
Ultimately, the program is expected to lower costs.
We also know that this work won’t just make health care better – it will also create jobs. More than 50,000 health IT-related jobs have been created since the enactment of the HITECH Act. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the number of health IT jobs will rise 20 percent from 2008-2018, faster than the average for all occupations in that period.
Our Administration has launched workforce development programs that are training more than 10,000 students for careers in health IT and over 1700 are expected to graduate by July 2013. When they graduate, they will have training to get quality jobs and the work they will do will make the health care system better for all of us.
Read more about how health IT can lead to safer, better, and more efficient care.
For more information about the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.