The Health ‘Digital Divide Dilemma’

Posted: Feb 10, 2014
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The Commonwealth Fund seeks to ‘promote a high-performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for society’s most vulnerable’. Which is why a recent study from the Commonwealth Fund focusing on the use of Health Information Technology (HIT) by primary care physicians revealed some troubling statistics.

The Findings
Despite a significant increase in the adoption of HIT by U.S Primary Care Physicians between 2009 and 2012, from 46% to 69%, those working independently, such as solo physicians, have not embraced modern technology at the same pace.

Introduced in 2009, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act was created to encourage individual healthcare workers and larger healthcare organizations to adopt meaningful use of health information technology into their procedures. However, as the study reports, ‘half of physicians in solo practices use EMRs, compared with 90 percent of those in practices of 20 or more physicians.’

The uptake of HIT is much higher for physicians who are eligible for financial incentives and part of a larger network with access to shared resources, making practice size a major factor.

Despite considerable funding by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), upwards of $25 billion, it seems eligibility for financial incentives and the availability of technical assistance programmes continues to hold back individuals and smaller practices.

Moving Forwards
Invariably the future of connected health relies on individuals and healthcare organizations of all sizes utilizing health IT. The obstacle is ensuring Protected Health Information (PHI) reaches healthcare professionals regardless of size, funding or technical knowledge in a secure, affordable and timely manner.

The growth of cloud services, such as cloud fax, and migration towards mobile health will undoubtedly reduce barriers to ‘digital health’ in the coming years for both well connected cities and isolated areas. Offering great control, flexibility and uncompromised security, HIPAA compliant services such as Sfax are set to bridge the digital divide 2014.

If you’re a healthcare worker looking to incorporate HIT into your practice make sure you choose a service provider who:

– is HIPAA compliant
– can provide you with administrative rights to control access to data
– can quickly adjust to your organizations service requirements
– doesn’t have hidden costs
– has an excellent uptime record
– can offer you unparalleled customer service