By now, I hope it is obvious that the HITECH Act intends to engage patients and their families in their own care. Yes-- this is intentionally a paradigm shift. Eligible providers (those receiving incentive payments) have to prove they are using the certified EHR technology to improve health care. You may have read of my mother’s dilemma with getting her test results. It has now been 82 hours (not that I am counting) since her CAT scan—still no results. Will there be any change with HITECH?
Under HITECH, eligible providers must choose three measures to report (in addition to a “core set” of three measures.) Perhaps any of the patient engagement items would be helpful:
“Provide patients with timely access to their health information (including lab results, problem lists, medication lists, and medication allergies) within four business days of the information being available to the EP” (EP have to do this for 10 percent of patients)
“Provide patients with an electronic copy of their discharge instructions at time of discharge, upon request.” (Fifty percent of those discharged from an eligible hospital must fall into this category)
“Provide clinical summaries for patients for each office visit.” (EP must provide this for 50 percent of patients within three business days.)
All of these measures are a nudge in the right direction. I am optimistic and can only encourage my mother to retain her right to receiving her OWN data. She has held her ground on getting her results—called twice daily, threatened that her daughter would be driving 7 hours to find the answer (I have never been used as a threat before) and finally—promised to complain to hospital authorities. Proof positive that it is not just the patient needed for the “engaged patient” part—but also the provider. If only there was an “app” for patience.