Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act
New media made possible President Obama’s 2009 HITECH Act, which is in turn credited for the rapid expansion of the Health Information Technology field. A main objective was to employ the use of Electronic Health Records (EHR). EHR have a tremendous effect on the accuracy and efficiency of health care. The HITECH Act reduces medical errors, saves on administrative costs long-term, decreases overall medical expenditures, coordinates patient care, reduces redundancy, and streamlines an over-complicated health care system. By no means is this an exhaustive list; however, patients will be able to: communicate directly with providers through email, view their health history online, access their personal wellness plan, and view and pay medical bills electronically. Also, information can be quickly transferred between providers. For example, EHR allow a medical specialist to access and exchange information (e.g. labs, x-rays, allergens, prescriptions, etc.) with your family doctor and vice versa. Clinicians, also, are able to interact with one another and consult evidence-driven best practices on a medical database for diagnosis and treatment. All of this translates to greater quality care and healthier Americans.
Conceptualizing HITECH as new media
New technology vs. new media
You may now be wondering where the line between new technology and new media splinters; indeed, it is tightly wound. To explain, it’s fitting to use the ol’ five finger adage: just as all thumbs are fingers but not all fingers are thumbs, all new media is technology but not all technology is media. For example, though a new model Mercedes may incorporate aspects of new media — such as streaming radio — and may be media worthy, it is new technology and not new media.
Is Health Information Technology (HIT) new media?
Maybe you’re questioning whether the HITECH Act has a place in the discussion of media given that HIT communications are largely confidential transmissions from a person or group (health care providers) to a single individual (patient or other provider), rather than ‘open’ communications to a collective. Confidential or not, is this not the very nature of media? Consider a billboard. It communicates information to one passerby at a time, potentially amounting to thousands per week. In regard to the private nature of the HIT data transferred, one question: what’s on your cell phone? Maybe your cell phone is just a cat video library, but for most other users it holds very private information. (See Supreme Court ruling that made it illegal for police to search digital information on cell phones without a warrant due to the sensitive nature of information stored therein.) All in all, media is simply the message between messenger and receiver as well as any tangible or intangible tools used to convey that message (Chalkley et. al, 2012). Therefore, clinical communications are, not separate from, but a genre within new media.
HITECH as media:
- Enables communication between patients and providers
- Facilitates information sharing
- Captures health and demographic information for scientific analysis and reporting
- Educates practitioners and public on best practices for the delivery of quality care and the improvement and maintenance of health, respectively
Leave a comment below and tell me how you feel about the use of new media in health care. ∎∎∎
Recommended media: Guide to Privacy and Security of Electronic Health Information, Department of Health and Human Services.
- Kovner, A. (2011). Health care delivery in the United States (10th ed.). New York: Springer Publishing Company.
- Chalkley, T., Brown, A., Cinque, T., Warren, B., Hobbs, M., & Finn, M. (2012). Communication, new media, and everyday life. South Melbourne: Oxford.
- Amer, Selman. (n.d.). Web search [stock image]. Retrieved from http://www.123RF.com