Health reform ruling reinforces importance of health IT, CIOs say

As the nationwide health IT community reacts to the Supreme Court's decision this morning to uphold the Affordable Care Act, hospital CIOs tell FierceHealthIT that the future of health information technology just got a little bit brigher.

While the ruling doesn't directly impact some of the larger healthcare IT efforts underway, such as Meaningful Use, which is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and not the ACA--it is likely to have residual effects, says Stephen Stewart, CIO of Mount Pleasant, Iowa-based Henry County Health Center.

"Health IT will only become more prominent as a result of this direction," Stewart told FierceHealthIT via email. "Reform cannot be done without the prerequisite technology. Reform has to happen; it's just a matter of what it looks like. Long term, it bodes well for health IT."

Day to day, Stewart said, nothing will change with regard to his organization's strategy, a sentiment shared by Dave Holland, CIO of Southern Illinois Healthcare.

"I don't expect anything other than business as usual," Holland told FierceHealthIT. "I'm sure the details will have some impact, but for IT, I expect the impact to be minimal."

John Halamka, CIO of Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, agrees with Stewart in that he believes the ruling will inevitably lead to more prominence for technology. In a post to his Life as a Healthcare CIO blog, Halamka wrote that reform "requires a foundation of health IT" to achieve success. He lists "universal adoption of electronic health records" and "decision support to deliver the right care at the right time" as examples of reform's trickle-down effect.

"The SCOTUS decision to uphold the healthcare reform law ensures that these foundational components will still have urgency, since every provider organization will be motivated to implement them in order to thrive in the healthcare marketplace of the future," Halamka said.

Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society President and CEO H. Stephen Lieber reiterated Halamka's sentiments, calling health IT "critical to the ongoing transformation in our nation," in a statement released this morning.

Dave Roberts, HIMSS vice president of government relations, added that he anticipates continued bipartisan support for health technology efforts.

"Now that the uncertainty around ACA has been settled, it is critical that we continue the momentum to transform healthcare, including the use of information technology."

To learn more:
- here's the FierceHealthcare story on the ruling
- check out Halamka's blog post
- here's the HIMSS announcement