Health Information Technology Act takes aim at costs, improved patient care

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This week bipartisan legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME). The proposed bill seeks to improve patient care while saving a hoped for $300 billion in annual in healthcare costs. The strategies for achieving these goals through Health Information Technology Act ('Health-Tech Act') include reducing paperwork and making sure that vital clinical information is immediately available to health care providers, according to a release from Senator Stabenow's office.

"We can eliminate or reduce many healthcare costs by ensuring that doctors, hospitals and other providers all have access to the same information," Stabenow said in the release. "This legislation is designed to make new technologies and services more affordable for our healthcare providers, ultimately reducing costs and improving patient care."

 "Although business has widely adopted new practices and tools, too often medicine remains grossly inefficient, increasing the cost of healthcare for everyone," Snowe said in the release. "Our legislation addresses the needs of hospitals, healthcare centers and physicians in bringing technology on line quickly to save lives, improve healthcare delivery, and ultimately reduce costs."

The 'Health-Tech Act' would spur information technology use through grants, adjustments to Medicare payments, and tax incentives. This funding would go towards new technologies, such as electronic health records (EHR) as well as automated pharmacy dispensing.

Benefits of a secure system of sharing patient information and other data include eliminate paperwork and duplication of procedures, but more importantly would reduce the likelihood of hazardous situations, preventing bad drug interactions or other avoidable problems.

"An estimated 31 cents of each healthcare dollar is spent on administrative costs," said Stabenow. "Our legislation will give providers the tools they need to reduce those costs while providing the best possible care for patients."

The legislation is supported by the following national organizations and corporations: American College of Physicians, Federation of American Hospitals, American Health Care Association, AFL-CIO, National Association of Children's Hospitals, American Heart Association, National Rural Health Association, National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, National Association of Community Health Centers Inc., American Academy of Family Physicians, IBM, National Business Coalition on Health, HIMSS, and the e-Health Initiative.