Monday, March 23, 2009

Why the Nationwide Health Information Network could help lower the costs of health benefits

With President Barack Obama announcing today that David Blumenthal will serve as his national coordinator for health information technology in the Department of Health and Human Service, the issue of an electronic medical record is coming back again.

In a Washington Technology article published today, Obama said during his announcement of appointing Blumenthal, a practicing Boston doctor and an IT health expert, that the federal government will spend $19.5 billion in economic stimulus funding for health IT professionals to begin the Nationwide Health Information Network.

For years, the health carriers had an archaic claims system that delayed payments and denied claims. That changed with the adoption of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act in 1996. Now, there are only eight claims processing systems in effect.

Obama is right in that a national electronic medical record standard will help lower the cost of health care by eliminating mistakes in records. When a doctor or one of his staff misdiagnose an ailment because of allergies or other medical factors, it can impact the cost of health care for an organization.   Still, the issue of privacy will rear its ugly head.

At Diversified Employee Benefits, we have been working with our customers to set up an administrative system to safeguard their employee's data because of the HIPAA regulation.   We understand the importance of helping our clients keep their data protected in the event of a possible audit by the Health and Human Service Department. 

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