The Feds are about to go on a spending binge. This time, they're dumping $6.5 billion on health IT, a move which should improve access to and quality of care for Americans over time. Health IT is big business and a federal spend of this magnitude is a sure indication that the healthcare industry is moving forward in terms of technology.
One reason for the rise in government health IT spending: It's proven ability to reduce healthcare costs, according to FierceHealthIT. Other factors include an aging population and ever-rising healthcare costs. This estimate doesn't include the Department of Health and Human Services electronic health initiative or state grants for health information exchange.
The $6.5 billion estimate does include health IT systems for the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In addition, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will be upgrading its payment systems and the National Institutes of Health and Center for Disease Control will be funding the tracking of medical research and surveillance of disease outbreaks.
Health IT will ease massive health care costs
Health care costs are expected to double between now and 2020. While improvements in health IT carry an initial cost, more efficient systems will help ease the rapid cost increase accompanying an aging population.
Other agencies, such as the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs, are implementing initiatives that will streamline health care for Veterans and active military personnel by creating a single, lifelong health record for each individual.
According to Healthcare IT News, even though federal agencies overall are facing budget cuts over the next several years, health IT is one area that will continue to receive funding increases thanks to the promise of down-the-road savings.
The article also notes that as health care moves toward a more preventative and patient-centered approach, health IT enables providers to provide services more adequately and efficiently, which improves the overall patient experience. Further, advanced technology aids providers in predicting future health care needs of individuals and provide preventative treatments.