The HITECH Act has failed to provide guidance to small IT providers on how to help small medical practices adopt EHRs, according to a new white paper by IT association CompTIA.
Small IT providers have been
unable to help health care providers, especially small medical practices, adopt
EHRs (electronic health records) due to barriers such as the HITECH (Health
Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act, according to a
new white paper published by nonprofit IT trade association CompTIA.
The white paper, titled
"Health IT: The Essential Role of Small IT Solution Providers,"
reported that small medical practices are less likely to adopt EHRs despite
incentives in the HITECH Act.
In the 2009 legislation, the
federal government allotted a total of $27
billion over 10 years to health care providers that meet meaningful use
guidelines on adoption of EHRs. The language in the HITECH Act focuses on
medical practices and not IT providers, CompTIA states. The association would
like to see more collaboration between small IT providers and small health care
should reflect the important role small IT service providers can play in the
health IT transition and create avenues for them to fully participate,"
Elizabeth Hyman, CompTIA's vice president for public advocacy and co-author of
the white paper, wrote in a statement. "Doing so will help to expand
adoption, particularly by small medical providers, and increase the quality of
care to patients."
Barriers keeping some small
health care providers from adopting technology include a lack of resources for
retraining IT professionals and inadequate collaboration between IT
professionals and health care providers.
Small health care providers
lack the IT resources to implement tools such as EHRs, Dr.
Farzad Mostashari, the national coordinator for health information
technology, told the House Small Business Subcommittee on Healthcare and
Technology on June 2.
"Participation by small
IT providers will also help drive job creation and retention, keeping America's
small-business backbone as an economic engine for generations to come,"
In a recent CompTIA study on
insights and opportunities in health care, 45 percent of respondents cited a
"very critical need" for health care IT training in HITECH compliance
and regulatory mandates.
retraining IT professionals, providing technical assistance, and implementing
privacy and security measures to allow smaller providers to adopt health care
On July 25 CompTIA announced
plans to award a certificate
to IT professionals who complete health care IT training courses. The Office of
the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has spent $677
million to fund 62 RECs (Regional Extension Centers) to train health care
practices in meaningful use of EHRs. The RECs must also provide this knowledge
to small IT firms and connect them with small health care practices, according
"The absence of a
universal commitment by the RECs to integrate small IT firms into the
transition will not only impact the ability of small medical providers to
participate in the transition, but will also limit their ability to focus on
patient care," the report states.
CompTIA published the white
paper in conjunction with its conference CompTIA Tech Summit, held Aug. 4.
Provisions for data breaches
in the HITECH Act also burden IT professionals, according to CompTIA. It
recommends the legislation be revised to solve discrepancies in data-breach
notification laws between federal and state laws that can cost small IT
providers millions of dollars in legal costs.
Brian T. Horowitz is a freelance technology and health writer as well as a copy editor. Brian has worked on the tech beat since 1996 and covered health care IT and rugged mobile computing for eWEEK since 2010. He has contributed to more than 20 publications, including Computer Shopper, Fast Company, FOXNews.com, More, NYSE Magazine, Parents, ScientificAmerican.com, USA Weekend and Womansday.com, as well as other consumer and trade publications. Brian holds a B.A. from Hofstra University in New York.