Sebelius: Health IT among ‘Most Promising Frontiers’ for US Economy

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, ONC Director David Blumenthal, Photo: hhs.gov

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT Director David Blumenthal took to the stage at one of the largest healthcare conferences to preach the gospel of health IT not only as a health issue but as a driver of economic growth.

Sebelius said health IT is one of the “most promising frontiers” for the U.S. economy. Also, because of its potential for positive economic impact, investment in health IT is largely a bipartisan issue, which could spare it from the budget battles in Washington, she said, according to an iHealthBeat report.

She mentioned the more than 230 companies that have certified electronic-health-record products, many of which are small businesses.

Her optimistic outlook on the health IT market drew comparisons to those made by federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra in a HIMSS speech earlier this week.

“Today is the best time to be a healthcare entrepreneur in America,” he said.

Meanwhile, Blumenthal, who announced he would leave his HHS post and return to Harvard in the spring, focused his remarks on what he called the “age of meaningful use,” iHealthBeat reported.

Meaningful use refers to the implementation of health IT methods, such as electronic health records. Healthcare providers that do so are eligible for incentive payments.

Blumenthal touted the success of health IT regional extension centers, which have signed up 47,000 organizations to help them implement them health IT, he said, according to iHealthBeat.

He also mentioned that the ONC teams working on EHRs are now hammering out requirements for Stage 2, which focuses on interoperability — or making sure digital health record systems can work together.

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