Pros And Cons Of The HITECH Act

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The "Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act" was enacted by the federal government to modernize and improve the safety and the quality of the nation’s healthcare system, while reducing costs. The HITECH Act is part of the American Reinvestment & Recovery Act (ARRA), enacted on February 17, 2009, which includes many measures intended to modernize the nation’s infrastructure (cdc.gov.) Although an ever increasing number of health care providers and 44% of the nation’s hospitals now use electronic health records (EHRs), several studies have shown that the use of EHRs alone does not ensure improved quality of care even after several years of implementation (Classen, Bates p. 855). The HITECH Act, specifically, …show more content…
For example, providers will have access to medical records that originate for several organizations which raises questions of ownership. Due to the vast amount information in an EHR compared to paper charts, this could potentially lead to a doctor missing a critical piece of data that could adversely affect a patient’s treatment. An error such as this could lead to a medical provider being held liable and sued for a mistake and could even lead to organizations who are not currently involved in treatment to be sued under “respondeat superior” because their phsycian’s records were involved, and they were named in a lawsuit as a result. Legal liability also increases because computer sign in logs can identify every individual who has reviewed or entered information in the EHR. In contrast, it is much more difficult to verify all parties who accessed a paper record. Furthermore, even more complex issues arise when test results and other information is automatically imported into the EHR via templates for progress note documentation. Therefore, notes are signed electronically even though not all of the information was inputted by the provider, and the liability of the signing clinician is legally unclear (Sittig & Singh). There are numerous additional legal liability issues for hospitals and healthcare providers to consider as well when implementing …show more content…
With the use of EHRs, protected health information is portable and accessible to numerous organiztions and providers, which raises questions of ownership and the healthcare provider’s responsibility to prevent security breaches. Additionally, EPs are responsible for informing patients of any data comprises or breaches. There have been instances of EHR vendors selling unidentifiable copies of patient records to pharmaceutical companies, as well as medical device makers and researchers. However, other data sources can be used to render unidentifiable records, identifiable. Ethics questions arise with the buying and selling of patient health information. For this reason, some patients and privacy advocacy groups have pushed for the right for people to “opt-out” of EHRs, thereby causing new ethical dilemmas.
Patients who choose to opt out of EHRs would most likely create additional work for healthcare providers who would be forced to create and maintain separate paper records. The result could be that providers may refuse to care for these people because of the added workload and potential loss of meaningful use incentive payments for these patients (Sittig &

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