Provisions included in the 2009 economic stimulus law require that all Americans’ health information be maintained in an electronic format by 2014.
I’ve never believed that this initiative would yield the costs savings that some project, but it seems like a good idea – on the face of it. Shortly after Hurricane Katrina displaced thousands of Gulf Coast citizens and (literally) blew away their physician’s offices, it was clear that having medical records in a safe and controllable electronic form made sense.
What does not make sense is that we will no longer have absolute control over those records. The government will have access to our (formerly) private health data whether we like it or not. Last week, another troubling aspect of the implementation became apparent when the government issued regulation requiring that Body Mass Index must be calculated and displayed in your electronic records.
The stimulus bill created the new National Coordinator of Health Information Technology whose office will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The stated goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions.