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Nov 10

Blumenthal Says U.S. Health Care Providers Lagging in IT Adoption

On Friday, National Coordinator for Health IT David Blumenthal said the U.S. is behind several other countries in adopting health IT, MedPage Today reports (Walker, MedPage Today, 10/30).

Blumenthal spoke during a briefing in Washington, D.C., about efforts by the U.S. and other countries to invest in health IT (Zigmond, Modern Healthcare, 10/30).

Other Countries’ Efforts

In Denmark, patients can access details of their hospital stays, physician visits and medications by signing in to an online portal (MedPage Today, 10/30).

In Sweden, primary care documentation is 100% electronic, and 97% of hospitals use electronic health records, according to Sabine Koch, a professor of health informatics at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.

Implementation Issues

Blumenthal said there have been several barriers to adopting health IT in the U.S., including:

  • A lack of adequate funds;
  • Not having the necessary infrastructure to support the exchange of health information;
  • Concerns among health care providers about what type of EHR system to purchase and whether it will become outdated; and
  • The need to convince the general public that health information will be exchanged privately (Modern Healthcare, 10/30).

Blumenthal said most of these challenges will be addressed by the 2009 economic stimulus package’s HITECH Act, which allocates $19 billion to improve health IT capabilities and encourage EHR adoption.

Health care providers who demonstrate “meaningful use” of certified EHRs can receive incentive payments through Medicaid and Medicare (MedPage Today, 10/30).

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