President Obama signed the HITECH Act in which it stated that every medical practitioner; be it doctor, nurse, clinics and hospitals in America should start using EHR (Electronic Health Record) practices. The Act also provisioned a reward of $30 billion in the form of incentives to the providers and hospitals who sufficiently met the target criterion as per the guidelines provided by the ruling administration.
The rules were planned to be deployed in 3 phase process where in, the first two phases that are already implemented targeted at ensuring more and more providers adhered to the EHR guidelines and processes. The final Phase i.e. Phase 3 was released recently on March 20th, 2015.
The 3rd Phase guidelines, reflected on the pros and cons of the previous 2 phases and ensured that it built upon those two phases promising a more cut-throat competition in the EHR market.
The 3rd Phase of HITECH Act
Phase 3 changes the game simply by incorporating Data Flow to their new set of guidelines. The EHR practitioners have started integrating their database with legacy systems for better security and a streamlined workflow.
However, the flipside of this is that, since most of these integrated systems are closed in itself, any 3rd party vendors often find it hard to use and improve upon the same. There is no other market alternative to these legacy systems meaning you either hit the jackpot through these or you die trying. This closed approach can lead to plaguing of the system as there is o room for external ideas regarding the development of systems, meaning that, the usability and efficiency is fixed and rigid in nature.
Many practitioners are of the belief that, with the latest set of guidelines issued to the practitioners forcing them to incorporate their records and patient data with the patients as well, there may soon be a leak caused in this otherwise closed program. This breach could lead to vendors taking advantage of the leaks and devising new platforms and softwares that might just solve the entire rigidity scenario that was prevalent until the last phase.
Is this the final solution to the equation?
Experts suggest that this 3 phase EHR integration plan is although beneficial and a step ahead in the right direction, it may simply be not enough to weigh in a revolution in the healthcare sector that many had otherwise hoped for. Ideally, what should have ensured a final victory, is the breakdown of the entire EHR system so that more and more 3rd party affiliates and vendors could create their own platforms and applications adhering to the same general guidelines of EHR practices. But since this phase only provides provision for incorporating and integrating data with the patients, there remains an entire elephant in the room pertaining to the closeness of the system.
As of now, how things stand, it is more like a closed system and as a practitioner or provider you are stuck within a closed system. No matter how much you thrive within the system ou can not expand upon it nor improve the drawbacks that may arise in time. Since there is no policy wherein 3rd party access is permitted to these highly secured systems, many improvements or alterations can’t take place even if they are beneficial for the systems.