Legislation related to Health Information Technology (HIT) has a noteworthy impact on many practical aspects of the nursing practice. For instance, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act passed as a law in 2009 has changed the procedures in regard to keeping certified electronic health records and their use by different health professionals, including nurses. The purpose of this legislation is to streamline the process of efficient and so-called “meaningful use” of the mechanism of electronic health records. (Buntin, Burke, Hoaglin, & Blumenthal, 2011)
There is already evidence as to the concrete benefits of this initiative to the quality of patient care and the health care system as a whole. At the same time, it is just as essential to note that studies have revealed that medical staff, especially nurses, point out to unsatisfactory technology as a significant barrier to realizing the aims of HIT. There is also another critical effect of the introduction of electronic health records on the decrease of nurse staffing levels. The research on three New York City dialysis centers has shown that the implementation of the meaningful use of the HITECH resulted in the 25 percent fall in nursing staffing numbers over a period of three years. (Buntin, Burke, Hoaglin, & Blumenthal, 2011)
Moreover, the mechanism created by HITECH is based on stimulus funding, which means that hospitals must demonstrate the real implementation of the law. As a result, the legislation becomes connected to other health care instruments. (Kelley, 2016) For example, Medicaid pays incentives to physicians, nurse practitioners and nurse-midwives for the meaningful use of electronic health records. Meanwhile, the stimulus methodology means that the advanced stages of HITECH implementation require the submission of data to demonstrate the progress. Needless to say, this practice affects the way that these records are maintained by nurse practitioners. (Hamric, Spross, Hanson & Hamric, 2009)
- Buntin, M., Burke, M., Hoaglin, M., & Blumenthal, D. (2011) The Benefits Of Health Information Technology: A Review Of The Recent Literature Shows Predominantly Positive Results. Health Affairs, 30(3), 464-471. http://dx.doi.org/10.1377/hlthaff.2011.0178
- Hamric, A., Spross, J., Hanson, C., & Hamric, A. (2014). Advanced practice nursing. St. Louis, Mo.: Saunders/Elsevier.
- Kelley T. (2016) Electronic health records for quality nursing & health care. Lancaster, Destech Publications.