Fate of health IT is not tied to one political party
Count me among those who don't believe that the health IT world would have come crashing to a halt had Mitt Romney won last week's presidential election. Although the former Massachusetts governor did promise to dismantle healthcare reform had he been elected, he made no such statements about the HITECH Act that mandates hospitals to use electronic health records in a meaningful way.
Yes, several House and Senate Republicans called for a freeze to Meaningful Use incentive payments only a month before the election, citing a lack of universal interoperable standards. While I've said before that such standards already exist, the House members, in particular, also made mention in their letter to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of Center for Public Integrity data that determined that EHRs could lead to physician upcoding; there must be something to that data if Sebelius (in conjunction with the Office of Civil Rights), National Health IT Coordinator Farzad Mostashari and the Office of Inspector General all, too, now are looking into the matter.
Health IT efforts, as many on FierceHealthIT's Advisory Board and throughout the health technology community in general pointed out last week, have received largely bipartisan support. I believe that support would have continued had Obama not retained his post.
I also believe that, although some healthcare providers, no doubt, would have been happy to be free of the burden of meeting Meaningful Use, many others see past all the incentive carrots and sticks and understand that the goal of using the technology, theoretically, is to improve patient care (whether it actually does or not is another argument entirely).
What's more, look at all the current health IT efforts that don't hing upon Meaningful Use. For instance, consumers are increasingly turning to their mobile devices to manage their health; the mobile health industry will only continue to grow as smartphones and tablets become the norm.
And in case you missed my interview last week with Children's Hospital Boston CIO Dan Nigrin, CMIO Marvin Harper and director of clinical research informatics Jonathan Bickel, that hospital has been using health technology at a high level that predates the Obama administration.
The success of health IT is not dependent on the actions, successes or failures of any one political party. Providers will continue to adopt new technology because to not do so could mean the difference between first-rate and subpar care.