Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH)

What does HITECH stand for in healthcare?
In healthcare, HITECH is an acronym that stands for Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act. 

 

What is the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH)?
The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act is a piece of legislation that was signed into law by President Obama on the 17th of February in 2009 with the intended purpose of encouraging the use of health information technology, especially electronic health records. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act was actually enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. 

You might be wondering what the use of electronic health records has to do with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Here’s a quick rundown. Before the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) was passed, not many hospitals used electronic health records. Why wouldn’t hospitals use technology that advanced healthcare by improving efficiency and making information transfer easier? Simply put, it was too costly. 

That’s where the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the HITECH come into play. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was a stimulus bill intended to help with the Great Recession crisis. Money was allocated to various areas to stimulate the economy, and some of that money went to the healthcare industry. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act provided monetary incentives to motivate hospitals and healthcare providers to use electronic health records. According to the AMA Journal of Ethics, hospitals and healthcare providers that showed “meaningful use” of electronic health records in 2011 and 2012 were provided with $18,000 in the first year, $12,000 in the second year, $8,000 in the third year, $4,000 in the fourth year, and $2,000 in the fifth year. 

In addition to encouraging the use of electronic health records, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act expanded upon and enforced the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act’s (HIPAA) privacy and security rules. To be more specific, HITECH increased the required response to security breaches of patient health information, increased liability for healthcare non-compliance, included business associates in HIPAA provisions, and improved privacy and security for patient data. 

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