Health and Human Services Chief Technology Officer Todd Park said HHS will begin awarding grants to healthcare providers who adopt health IT practices, but only if they can prove they are actually using the technology, according to Federal News Radio.
The federal funds, provided for by the HITECH Act, will be disbursed beginning in a few months to healthcare providers who can demonstrate “meaningful use” of health IT methods, such as electronic health records.
“We’re not going to pay you just because you install software,” Park said. “We’re going to pay you for the meaningful use of that software to improve care for patients.”
It’s a different – some say revolutionary – way of funding the adoption of health IT practices.
“It’s not actually paying for the adoption of health IT; it’s actually paying for the meaningful use of health IT, which is a really revolutionary approach,” he added.
Park said the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services as well as the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, led by David Blumenthal, had taken the lead in determining the “meaningful use” strategy.
Advocates of electronic health data believe the digital records will not only improve care, but also provide data and far-reaching information that could be used for the public good.
For example, Park told Federal News Radio some health data such as rates of smoking or obesity could be used to create applications and services to benefit the public. He said they would be in the same vein as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s data which helped spur the creation of innovative weather apps for smartphones.