HHS pushes health information techNews added by Benefits Pro on March 7, 2013
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By Kathryn Mayer

The Obama administration Wednesday announced a major push to prioritize the adoption of health information technology in the health care industry in 2013.

One major initiative of the plan is to accelerate the adoption of electronic health records among physicians, while also aiming to improve interoperability.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner praised the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for “improving the way care is delivered while lowering costs.”

“We are already seeing benefits, such as a reduction in hospital readmissions due to these reforms,” she said in a statement. “Health IT and the secure exchange of information across providers are crucial to reforming the system, and must be a routine part of care delivery.”

HHS is aiming for half of all physician offices to use electronic health records by the end of this year. EHR adoption has tripled since 2010, increasing to 44 percent in 2012 and computerized physician order entry has more than doubled (increased 168 percent) since 2008, the department says.

Officials promised to implement rules regarding exchanging and streamlining data and said they are working with the Veterans Administration and more than 450 different organizations to make health care information available to patients and health plan members.

They also are increasing the emphasis on interoperability, today issuing a request for information seeking public input about a variety of policies that will strengthen the business case for electronic exchange across providers to ensure patients’ health information will follow them seamlessly and securely wherever they access care.

The RFI can be found online, and deadline for comments is April 21.

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