Impact of HITECH Legislation

Impact of HITECH Legislation

Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) is an act that was signed in 2009, to stimulate the adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHR) and support technology in the United States. The law signed by President Obama forms part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) economic stimulus bill. In 2011, the legislation stipulated that the healthcare providers would be given financial incentives for demonstrating the meaningful use of EHRs up to 2015 (Slight and Berner et al, 2015). Failure to demonstrate meaningful use would lead to penalties. HITECH legislation provides up to $27 billion to hospitals and eligible professionals to receive incentives for maximizing the meaningful use of EHRs.

The goals of the HITECH legislation are attributed to the universal goals of the healthcare sector in the United States. The goals include improving quality, safety, and efficiency, increasing coordination of care, engaging patients in their care, ensuring privacy and security, and improving the health status of the population. Therefore, HITECH does not only put computers into physician’s offices and hospital wards but also use them towards achieving the five goals of universal healthcare. The incentive funds allocated to the institutions that show efficient use of EHRs aim at covering the costs of investment in the systems. To sustain the HITECH legislation programme, the government allocates extra funds to deal with critical issues in the healthcare setups like infrastructural development and training of personnel on how to use the EHRs effectively. Research is another area focused on HITECH legislation, and funds allocated help in the event of collaborative research centers. Among the areas of research are security and healthcare information technology, healthcare application, patient-centered cognitive support, secondary use of EHRs and network design.

HITECH legislation has improved the quality of services provided in institutions since its adoption in 2011. Clinical outcomes of the technology reveal that errors have been minimized in areas such as record keeping and administration of medication. Mycen, Penprase and Piscotty (2016) explain that in a recent study on outpatient service delivery, it was found that computerization resulted in an error rate reduction from 18.2% to 8.2%. The second positive result associated with the use of the legislation is a reduction of mortality rates. The decline is attributed to the improved communication between departments in the hospitals and also the accuracy of information provided by the computer systems. Through the updated security systems, confidentiality of patients and security of their data has been guaranteed thus increasing access to healthcare in patients. The negative side of HITECH legislation as observed in institutions is financial issues. The costs of installation and maintenance of the technological systems are high leading to loss of productivity.

The use of electronic health records in hospitals has proven successful because of the incentives provided by the US government. The motives have been intertwined with critical legislation called meaningful use. There is no single definition provided to satisfy what meaningful use should look like, but the HITECH legislation gives three requirements for the same (McGonigle, 2015). The use of EHR technology in a meaningful manner, use of EHR technology in a way that provides an exchange of information to improve quality of care and the use of certified EHR to submit clinical quality measures defines meaningful use. Provision of incentives to the hospitals facilitates efficient use of the EHR thus improving the quality of care to the patients. There is an increase in organizational accuracy of patient information, access to information to aid in patient diagnosis and streamlining of workflow in the hospital due to EHR use.


Mysen, K. L., Penprase, B., & Piscotty, R. (2016). Patient Satisfaction With Electronic Health Record Use by Primary Care Nurse Practitioners. (Computers, informatics, nursing.)

McGonigle, D., & In Mastrian, K. G. (2015). Nursing informatics and the foundation of knowledge.

Slight, S. P., Berner, E. S., Galanter, W., Huff, S., Lambert, B. L., Lannon, C., Lehmann, C. U., … Bates, D. W. (January 01, 2015). Meaningful Use of Electronic Health Records: Experiences From the Field and Future Opportunities. Jmir Medical Informatics, 3, 3.