As the owner of a small to medium-sized medical business (a 1-19 physician practice, say, with 5-50 employees) you have many concerns – how to hire and retain competent staff, how to deal with your vendors such as office payroll, billing and collection services, and, above all, how to serve your patients’ needs in the most economical and expeditious way. I.e., by speeding up scheduling, quickly accessing medical records, coordinating treatment with other doctors, etc. Time spent managing your information and communications infrastructure for HIPAA or HITECH compliance may not seem to be the most critical aspect of your work.
However, the use of ICT – information and communications technologies – in the healthcare industry has become increasingly pervasive and has special relevance for every medical practitioner, given the provisions of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which adds more substance to the original Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy and security rules. HITECH also incentivizes medical practitioners to step up their use of electronic health records (EHR) to “exchange electronic health information with, and integrate such information from, other sources.”
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