Federal health IT gets progress update

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About halfway through its federal health IT strategic plan, the Office of the National Coordinator at the Health and Human Services Department has unveiled its federal health IT progress report.

The report describes developments in health IT grant programs, innovation challenges, certification, standards and regulatory policy and also future health IT efforts. This initiative works to promote electronic health records adoption through private and public intersection, and encourages use and development of more health IT.

EHR adoption and health IT use have seen a major upswing since 2011. To sustain those levels, ONC has partnered with other agencies to provide adoption support to providers and consumers through HealthIT.gov.

The first goal for federal health IT, as outlined in the report, is to encourage a “meaningful use of health IT,” with a focus on EHRs and electronic exchange of health information.

As of March 2013, 2,874 eligible hospitals and 192,126 eligible providers have successfully attested to achieving Meaningful Use requirements. Also, more than 133,000 primary-care providers and 31,000 medical practices enhance and meaningfully implement EHR technology.

The incentive programs have also proved to be successful methods of encouraging meaningful use of health IT, and especially adoption of EHRs. More than 85 percent of eligible hospitals and 74 percent of eligible professionals have registered for EHR incentive programs as of April 2013.

According to the report, hospitals have been slightly quicker to adopt EHR practices; 44 percent of nonfederal acute-care hospitals adopted EHR by 2012, compared to 39 percent of office-based physicians.

In an effort to spur health IT innovation, HHS has developed a series of grant competitions for the private sector. These challenges, which can be found at Challenge.gov or Health 2.0, involve creating apps and mobile technology that work to solve health’s biggest challenges.

HHS is planning to release a report later in the year, along with its federal partners.

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