Colorado Technical University Health Information Technology Discussion

Must be 3-4 pages in length not including title and reference pages

The use of health information technology (HIT) has increased dramatically over the past decade, resulting in the federal government enacting several pieces of legislation such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009. Continuing to build on your proposal for a healthcare facility from Weeks 1 and 2, you are assigned to research and discuss the following:

  • Discuss the financial and health benefits that can be realized by implementing an electronic health record (EHR).
  • Research and explain the estimated cost of implementing an EHR and the estimated cost of managing an EHR over the long run.
  • Discuss current security concerns surrounding HIT and the EHR.
  • Discuss how electronic health records can be used for decision-making and problem-solving.
  • Choose 1 piece of federal legislation (e.g., HIPAA, HITECH Act, Meaningful Use), and discuss the requirements that legislation imposes on the use of HIT and the EHR.

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Introduction

The use of health information technology (HIT) has become essential in the field of healthcare. The implementation of electronic health records (EHR) has brought significant changes to the way medical information is recorded, stored, and accessed. The use of EHR has numerous benefits, ranging from financial to medical benefits. However, implementing an EHR system in healthcare facilities requires an upfront cost and long-term management cost. Moreover, current security concerns surrounding HIT and the EHR pose a challenge to EHR implementation. Nevertheless, electronic health records can be used for decision-making and problem-solving, enhancing medical care services. This paper discusses the financial and health benefits of implementing an EHR, estimated costs of implementing and managing EHR, security concerns surrounding HIT and EHR, and the use of electronic health records for decision-making and problem-solving. Additionally, a piece of federal legislation, HIPAA, HITECH Act, or Meaningful Use will be analyzed, highlighting the requirements that legislation imposes on the use of HIT and EHR.

Financial and Health Benefits of Implementing an EHR

Implementing an EHR leads to numerous financial and health benefits. Firstly, EHR improves the medical care service resulting in better patient outcomes and a reduction in healthcare errors and medical malpractice claims (Anderson et al., 2019). An EHR system enhances patient care by ensuring that healthcare providers can access accurate, comprehensive, and updated patient information leading to improved diagnostic, prescribing, and treatment decisions (Peter et al., 2019). Therefore, providing proper medical care will increase patient satisfaction and reduce financial costs on litigation claims.

Secondly, EHR eliminates duplicative and unnecessary medical tests and procedures, reducing costs. With EHR, patient information is accessible to healthcare providers, minimizing the need for multiple diagnostic procedures, lab tests, and imaging, thus reducing costs related to healthcare services (Peter et al., 2019). Furthermore, electronic health records ensure accurate billing and timely payment, minimizing the costs of administrative operations (Anderson et al., 2019). Therefore, introducing EHR into healthcare facilities will lead to financial savings through improved medical care, reduced unnecessary operations, and optimized billing and payment.

Cost of Implementing and Managing EHR

Implementing and managing an EHR system comes with a significant cost. The upfront cost of implementing an EHR ranges between $15,000 and $70,000 per healthcare provider (Wang et al., 2018). The cost of EHR implementation depends on the size of the healthcare facility and the technological system installed. Additionally, managing an EHR system requires continuous training of healthcare providers, maintenance of the system, and upgrading to the latest versions. A study by Wang et al. (2018) indicates that the cost of managing an EHR ranges from $1,500 to $5,000 per provider annually. Therefore, healthcare facilities need to plan for such expenses when implementing an EHR system.

Security Concerns Surrounding HIT and EHR

One of the significant security concerns surrounding HIT and EHR is the potential for unauthorized access to patient information (Kharraz et al., 2018). With electronic health records, patient information is stored, transmitted, and accessed via the internet. Consequently, EHR is vulnerable to cyber-attacks, hacking, and ransomware. This puts not only patient information but also the healthcare facility’s reputation at risk. Another concern is the potential compromise of the integrity of the patient data. For instance, if a healthcare employee accesses and manipulates a patient’s medical record improperly, the patient may be exposed to incorrect diagnosis, treatment, or irregular medication (Kharraz et al., 2018). Therefore, cybersecurity is paramount when implementing and managing electronic health records.

Use of Electronic Health Records for Decision-Making and Problem-Solving

Electronic health records utilization can enhance decision-making and problem-solving. EHR enables healthcare providers to access comprehensive medical information and history, enabling improved diagnostic and treatment decisions (Kharraz et al., 2018). Furthermore, an EHR system can provide analytics and insights on medical conditions, patient outcomes, and costs, leading to the identification of patterns and best practices that can help shape treatment decisions (Anderson et al., 2019). Therefore, EHR can be used by healthcare providers in decision-making and problem-solving, which will improve medical care quality.

Federal Legislation and the Use of HIT and EHR

One piece of federal legislation related to the use of HIT and EHR is the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. HIPAA provides guidelines for the secure management and privacy of personal health information (PHI) (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2018). HIPAA requires that healthcare facilities limit access to PHI and have security measures in place to protect PHI from unauthorized access. HIPAA also requires healthcare facilities to obtain written consent from patients before disclosing PHI (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2018). Additionally, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 sets requirements to promote the adoption of EHR (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2018). The HITECH Act provides incentives for healthcare facilities that implement EHR and penalties for those that fail to comply with its provisions. Furthermore, the Meaningful Use program specifies the requirements for the meaningful use of EHR, where healthcare facilities must demonstrate that they are using EHR meaningfully to access incentive payments (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2018).

Conclusion

The implementation of electronic health records in healthcare facilities has numerous benefits, including improved medical care quality, optimized billing, and payment processes, and reduced healthcare costs. However, healthcare facilities must plan for the cost that comes with implementing and managing an EHR system, train employees on EHR security protocols, and integrate EHR into the problem-solving and decision-making processes. Moreover, the security concerns related to EHR and the federal legislation regarding the use of HIT and EHR should be considered in implementing and managing an EHR system. Therefore, healthcare facilities must adopt appropriate measures to protect patient information while complying with the federal legislation regarding the use of HIT and EHR.

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