Health Care IT and the Health Care Reform Debate

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As U.S. lawmakers debate changes in the nation’s healthcare system, CompTIA representatives are focused on the role of information technology in the delivery of healthcare. H.R. 3014, which passed the House on November 18th, would allow the SBA to guarantee loans up to 90% for the acquisition of HIT systems by small business health practitioners.  The maximum loan amount is the lesser of $350,000 for any single qualified eligible professional, or $2,000,000 with respect to a single group of affiliated qualified eligible professionals.  This same provision has already been passed by the House (on October 29th), as it was included in H.R. 3854, the “Small Business Financing and Investment Act of 2009.”  Timing of further action is uncertain.  However, CompTIA expects the HIT SBA financing provision will appear in the final legislation.

A recent CompTIA study entitled, Healthcare IT Market: Insights and Opportunities, found that healthcare providers realize that new technologies have to be adopted to improve their business, but the medical benefits of technology also are clearly in their sights. The CompTIA study revealed that 59 percent of healthcare providers are somewhat to very excited about the prospect of telemedicine and 79 percent are interested in portable tablet PCs for point-of-patient care.

However, while heath care providers are enthusiastic about the potential patient care benefits of IT, the economic pressures associated with heath care and health care reform are not lost on IT firms.  Bob Kramer, CompTIA’s VP of Public Policy told eWeek that “rising health care costs have perennially topped our members' list of concerns” because “it hits their bottom line hard, making it more difficult with each passing year to provide health care.”

Overall, CompTIA’s efforts to raise awareness of IT issues within the healthcare debate generated more than 80 stories in print and online in October. Publications of note included Advance for Health Information Professionals, Boston Globe, Buffalo News, eWeek, Forbes.com, InformationWeek, Managed Care Online, Reuters, and Vertical Systems Reseller.