A major part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinic Health Act (more commonly known as the HITECH Act), which promoted the adoption of electronic health records (EHR) and, ultimately, a network that will connect them all. The goal is that, someday, a patient can go into any facility anywhere in the U.S. and the healthcare professional will have all of the patient’s background information, making treatment faster and more effective. Healthcare providers are incentivized to implement EHRs within their practice and to establish ‘meaningful use,’ which means instituting all the required elements of a functional and beneficial electronic record system.
Implementing these systems, however, is easier said than done. This complex, multifaceted technology must be integrated into all systems and processes of a healthcare facility — while the facility continues to function. As the saying goes, they must build the plane while flying it. Added to that, the technology is expensive — even with incentives from the government — and encouraging adoption among staff who worked much of their careers without it can be a major hurdle. The organizational impact of moving to computerized physician order entry (CPOE) and the processes required to make it successful are one of the greatest challenges hospitals have taken on.