If the only news you receive on healthcare is from political pundits, you have probably given up all hope of reining in US healthcare costs, let alone improving our 37th in the world healthcare ranking. Perhaps the greatest problem holding the US back in healthcare has been the reliance on printed, and in many cases, hand-written health records. In an effort to change this situation, the US government has put forth incentives to accelerate the move to electronic health records (EHR).
An important element of the 2009 Stimulus Act (officially, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) was specifically designed to accelerate the adoption and use of standard and interoperable EHR. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act went further than just encouraging use of EHR; it requires hospitals and doctors to show “meaningful use” of certified EHR technology (CEHRT). On the upside, in return for the deployment and meaningful use of CEHRT, the federal government provides Medicare and Medicaid-related financial incentives. On the downside, after a certain period of time, financial penalties for non-compliance will be exacted. The requirements for meaningful use become stricter through stages 1, 2, and 3.
So what is meant by the term meaningful use? There are three main components.
- The use of certified EHR technology in a meaningful manner, such as e-prescribing.
- The use of certified EHR technology for electronic exchange of health information to improve the quality of health care.
- The use of certified EHR technology to submit clinical quality measures.
Medical facilities need to insure that their network infrastructure can handle the increasing demands that compliance with meaningful use brings. The network must be able to effectively provide Eligible Providers (EPs) with high bandwidth, secure access to CEHRT via any authorized device, including both hospital- and physician-owned (BYOD) mobile devices. The network must have the capacity and resiliency to provide CEHRT with low-latency, high-bandwidth, and highly-available access to a vast database of medical images and videos. As specified in the HITECH act, the network infrastructure must be fully compliant with HIPAA privacy and security rules. The OneFabric network solution from Enterasys provides the reliable, secure, and easy-to-manage WiFi and wired network access for medical devices including biomedical and voice, as well as telemetry and real time location systems (RTLS), required to meet these requirements. OneFabric provides manageable and secure network access for physician, staff, and guest devices, while protecting all private medical data.