Technology is transforming all sectors of medical care, including how medical providers access and share essential records. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act or HITECH Act is improving patient’s privacy, treatment, and overall care. These provisions also provide a boost to the health information exchange (HIE) industry, which includes ChartSwap as well as traditional record retrieval companies.
An Introduction To The HITECH Act
The HITECH Act is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and its purpose was to reform how physicians and other health practitioners store and share medical records while maintaining the utmost privacy as required by HIPAA regulations. Using electronic files can reduce how many people have access to critical health files and eliminate other problems that can arise with traditional archival methods, such as:
- Prevent lost data
- Improve patient case management
- Reduce errors in medical care
The HITECH Act included incentives for practitioners and medical groups to adopt electronic health records (EHRs) for using these systems and penalties for those who were negligent with patients’ files and recordkeeping. Incentives included yearly payments over six years to implement an EHR system. These payments would decrease or depreciate each year, and participants had to be eligible by 2016 to qualify for entry into the program. Mandatory fines begin at a minimum of $100 and cap at $25,000 for violations providers weren’t aware of and higher fines, topping $1 million for willful acts of negligence.
The HITECH Act For Medical Providers
A physician treating a patient needs access to all records from every specialist, and any previous practitioners note. Electronic record retrieval systems help streamline the entire process. Tasks such as requesting records, verifying permissions, and granting access to charts, images, diagnostic tests, and other essential information different requestors need are taken care of by the system.
Medical offices get requests for records from a variety of healthcare providers, lawyers, record retrieval companies, insurers, and anyone with authorization from the patient. These services also offer relief from the constant barrage of requests medical offices field that can be distracting and time-consuming, especially in a high volume office. In addition to these benefits, EHRs help practitioners coordinate care with other medical providers, give patients and care providers more control over their treatment, and reduce office overhead.
How The HITECH Act Affects Patients
Electronic records and data organization improve patient care overall. When physicians have fast, reliable access to files from other prescribing practitioners, it can:
- Decrease drug-to-drug interactions
- Increase early detection of some diseases
- Reduce time for patients and third parties to get copies of their medical records
Access to electronic records is expanding critical care. The exchange of medical information increased from 44% in 2010 to 76% in 2014 among outside ambulatory providers, and nearly 70% of hospitals were sharing lab results. These aren’t the only health care areas sharing critical medical data — at the same time, hospitals shared 65% of radiology reports, 64% of patient summaries, and 55% of medication histories.
The HITECH Act & Record Retrieval Companies
Before the implementation of the HITECH Act, only 10% of hospitals were using EHRs. A survey in 2017, found 86% of office-based physicians switched to EHRs. With nearly 90% of medical providers using these systems, record retrieval and health information exchange companies, such as ChartSwap, are handling transactions for thousands of customers.
These platforms allow healthcare practitioners and interested third parties to complete all transactions on a single platform. Access is available in several short minutes without the worry of contacting multiple physicians’ offices for permission, lost files, missing payments, and processing errors, all of which are time-consuming.
The HITECH Act is beneficial for all health information exchanges. Through benefits and consequences, it’s helping medical providers, patients, third parties, and record retrieval companies. EHR-compatible systems like ChartSwap are changing the future of health care by providing straightforward, efficient, and secure access to all types of medical records.