Despite Obama win, health IT efforts still face heavy scrutiny

The reelection of President Obama to the White House--and Republicans retaining control of the House and Democrats retaining control of the Senate--almost assuredly means the continuation of healthcare IT efforts currently underway such as the Meaningful Use incentive program.

But those efforts will likely face increased oversight and scrutiny, according to Harry Greenspun, M.D., a senior advisor for healthcare transformation and technology at the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions.

Greenspun (right), who spoke with FierceHealthIT this morning, said that it's easy to forget that the questioning of health IT started well before letters were sent to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius last month by Republicans in both the House and Senate.

"The first round we saw was with ICD-10," Greenspun said. "That kind of broke the seal on making some challenges to some of the aspects of health IT, going forward. So many of us in the health IT industry take it on face that technology is good, and that more rapid adoption is good. But there are a lot of people who question that."

Still, Greenspun said, the result removes some of the uncertainty surrounding the implementation of various IT-related programs, a point with which several members of FierceHealthIT's Editorial Advisory Board agreed.

David Harlow (left), principal of the Boston-based Harlow Group LLC, said he thinks the administration "slowed the promulgation of regulations to a trickle" leading up to the election. "HIPAA, HITECH and health reform regulations should start flowing again, which will help folks who need to plan or take action before statutory deadlines," he told FierceHealthIT.

"We'll be back to normal soon."

Edward Marx (right), CIO of Dallas-based Texas Health Resources, also said he thinks there will be little change to government-mandated IT efforts.

"The status quo [in Washington] means the status quo for health IT," Marx told FierceHealthIT.

Drex DeFord (left), CIO of Boston-based Steward Health Care System, said he hopes that the bipartisan support that health IT for the most part has received will continue. "I want the parties to work hard to find common ground so we can solve our toughest problems," DeFord told FierceHealthIT. "I am hopeful that it does not become a politicized issue of the next four years."

In a blog post published just prior to the election, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CIO John Halamka (right) expressed a similar sentiment.

"I always try to ignore election year politics and work above the fray," Halamka wrote. "Regardless of who is elected, I will work with them and continue my passion for standards and interoperability."

David Chou (left), senior director of operations at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, told FierceHealthIT that the national budget will be integral to health IT going forward.

"I believe that will be the driving factor on how much change we see in the industry," he said.