The future of health IT policy
The health sector in America has various challenges that necessitates the use of policies and legislation from the department of health as the primary way of solving the challenges. The improvement of healthcare IT infrastructure is among the ways in which these challenges have been addressed to improve efficiency, patient safety and quality of healthcare. This paper focuses on the initiatives passed by the federal government to improve health care IT adoption, the challenges facing health industry and possible goals that policy makers are likely to include in future strategic plans.
The health IT policy making and strategy initiatives are directed by the office of the national coordinator for health information technology (ONC). The authorization and regulation is based on the health information technology for economic and clinical health (HITECH) act argues Jones, Rudin, Perry, & Shekelle, (2014). It is this act that gives the mandate to the health and human services department to formulate programs and strategies that focus on improving the quality of healthcare, patient safety and efficiency in the health care institutions.
The federal health IT strategic plan 2015-2020 has four main goals which include advancing person centered and self-managed health. The second goal is to transform health care delivery and community health. This will be achieved through supporting delivery of quality healthcare. The third goal is to foster research, scientific knowledge and innovation. The last goal is to enhance the national health IT infrastructure (Kruse, Goswamy, Raval, & Marawi, 2016).
Strategies and accomplishments
Ravitz, Grant, & Grant, (2018, June) argues that following the adoption of the federal health IT strategic plan, the federal government has come up with certain initiatives and regulations whose main concern is the acceleration of the adoption of health IT. Some of these initiatives and regulations include setting certain standards and certification criteria that governs the adoption and use of EHR’s in healthcare institutions.
The federal government has also focused on enhancing and improving security of electronic health records through creation of secure codes and firewalls to protect healthcare data from malicious destruction, deletion or arbitrary manipulation. In addition, the federal government has also set up measures that focus on the prioritization of health IT infrastructure across the country. This is being done through supporting and acknowledging institutions that prioritize IT strategies and functions.
D’Andreamatteo, Ianni, Lega, & Sargiacomo, (2015) argues that among the achievements that the federal government has made in the acceleration of health IT adoption include making the electronic health records a basic necessity in majority of healthcare institutions. This has had immense impact in quality of care improvement by not only improving efficiency but also accuracy and ease of access. The government has also succeeded in identifying the various weaknesses all over the country and making the necessary arrangements in the ongoing implementation of the policy. This has shown positive advancements and some of the already realized benefits include increasing confidence among service users.
Key challenges facing healthcare industry and policy makers
There are various challenges facing the healthcare industry and the implementation of the federal health IT strategic plan 2015-2020 among other policies formulated by the ONC. The rising cost of healthcare is among the biggest challenges facing the health sector. The challenge of finances facing the consumers as they are unable to afford healthcare, the health institutions are unable to acquire healthcare infrastructure that is up to standard and at the same time hire professional workers who understand are competent enough to operate upcoming healthcare equipment. Abdallah, (2014) argues that the government also faces constant lack of funds to develop the healthcare IT infrastructure in the hospitals.
Another perennial challenge in the sector is shortage of qualified staff to meet the heavy demands of the ever growing population. Specialization within the field also denies the taskforce of active workers as the workforce is not concentrated on areas that need so much attention. In other words, it is individual preference and tastes that directs someone to an area of specialization and not the demands of work. This is likely to concentrate more people in the areas that need no work at all. Finally, poor coordination has caused a slow paced change transition (Bartel, Beaulieu, Phibbs, & Stone, 2014). Poor coordination due to management deficits in the private sector and charitable organizations makes the implementation of policies to become slow and most of the strategic plans are often abandoned before they are fully implemented.
Future health policy goals
According to Weaver, Ball, Kim, & Kiel, (2016) it is predictable that in the next healthcare strategic plan, there shall be goals that will include but not limited to speedy transition and implementation of policies, cost subsidy and non-medicinal solutions to healthcare to reduce on costs and also increasing the pool of workers to meet the increasing demands of healthcare. This is because, there is a steady increase in population and also healthcare demands due to rise in life expectancy that increases the number of senior citizens. Most senior citizens live with certain health conditions which increases their medical demands while the retirement age of healthcare professionals remains constant.
The plan will also have goals focusing on cutting the cost of medication at all levels whose objectives will include looking for non-medicinal solutions to diseases such as healthy diet and cultural factors of good health (Bennett, & Raab, 2017). In addition, it may also focus on extending the retirement age of healthcare workers as the older workers are more experienced and they may chip in to offer the necessary support to the aging population. Lastly, to speed up the implementation process, the federal government may come with policies that regulate management of the private health facilities as well as nonprofit charitable organizations whose primary goal is healthcare.
In conclusion, it is important to highlight that it is important for the government through the department of health and the ONC to focus on policies and initiatives that will involve all the people towards improvement of healthcare IT and speedy implementation of policies. This will ensure effectiveness in the adoption of quality infrastructure in the healthcare sector and adherence to these infrastructure for the improvement of service delivery.
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D’Andreamatteo, A., Ianni, L., Lega, F., & Sargiacomo, M. (2015). Lean in healthcare: A comprehensive review. Health policy, 119(9), 1197-1209.
Jones, S. S., Rudin, R. S., Perry, T., & Shekelle, P. G. (2014). Health information technology: an updated systematic review with a focus on meaningful use. Annals of internal medicine, 160(1), 48-54.
Kruse, C. S., Goswamy, R., Raval, Y., & Marawi, S. (2016). Challenges and opportunities of big data in health care: a systematic review. JMIR medical informatics, 4(4).
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Bennett, C. J., & Raab, C. D. (2017). The governance of privacy: Policy instruments in global perspective. Routledge.
Ravitz, A., Grant, M. C., & Grant, C. (2018, June). The Future of Healthcare through a Systems Approach. In 2018 13th Annual Conference on System of Systems Engineering (SoSE) (pp. 527-534). IEEE.