Summing Up HITECH Goals

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) was signed by President Obama on Feb. 17, 2009, in Denver, Colorado. Under a portion of this legislation known as the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, ARRA effectively provides the "carrots and sticks" for providers to adopt certified EHR technology by Jan. 1, 2015. Below is a summary of the goals HITECH seeks to advance:

1. Push adoption of certified EHR technology. One of the main goals of HITECH is to spur widespread adoption of certified EHR technology. The regulation of EHR technology through ONC certification ensures that the technology providers adopt meets certain federal standards in order to position for interoperability of data, baseline features and functions, and privacy and security.

2. Capture data. HITECH seeks to move physicians to capturing discrete data at the point of care and away from documenting unstructured data in the form of narrative notes or dictation. Discrete data is required to position for comparative effectiveness research, interoperability of data, align clinical decision support systems, etc.

3. Move data. The interoperability of health care data is currently very limited in the U.S. HITECH is intended to advance standards that allow for nationwide electronic exchange of health information.

4. Report data. The reporting of discrete data will enable the government to begin conducting comparative effectiveness research, which is designed to inform healthcare decisions by providing evidence on the effectiveness, benefits and harms of treatment options. Data reporting will also support a future shift to performance-based payment models.