What are the impact of the legislation on healthcare IT?


Healthcare is a dynamic and ever-evolving field, constantly adapting to emerging technologies, patient needs, and regulatory changes. Over the past few years, healthcare legislation has played a pivotal role in reshaping the industry. This essay aims to explore the background and focus of recent healthcare legislation, assess whether the intended benefits have been realized, and identify the impact it has had on healthcare information technology (IT). To provide a comprehensive analysis, this essay will draw upon peer-reviewed articles published between 2018 and 2023.

Background for the Legislation

The healthcare industry in the United States has long faced challenges related to access, quality, and cost. Various legislative initiatives have been introduced to address these issues. One of the landmark pieces of legislation in recent years is the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010, often referred to as Obamacare. While this legislation is not within the specified date range, it laid the foundation for many subsequent healthcare reforms and will be briefly mentioned for context (Blumenthal & Collins, 2020).

The ACA aimed to expand access to healthcare by mandating insurance coverage, improving healthcare quality through initiatives like value-based care, and controlling costs. It introduced several IT-related provisions, including the establishment of health information exchanges (HIEs) to promote interoperability, adoption of electronic health records (EHRs), and incentivizing healthcare providers to implement health IT systems (Hsiao et al., 2019). The ACA’s impact on healthcare IT was substantial and set the stage for further developments.

One key development within the specified date range is the 21st Century Cures Act, signed into law in 2016 but with significant implications for healthcare IT in the following years (Blumenthal et al., 2020). This legislation focused on accelerating medical product development and innovation. It included provisions to advance health IT interoperability and prohibited information blocking. The goal was to empower patients with greater control over their health data and foster innovation in healthcare.

Additionally, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and included provisions related to healthcare IT. It allocated funds for telehealth expansion and encouraged the use of health IT solutions to manage the crisis efficiently (Anderson et al., 2020).

Focus of Recent Healthcare Legislation

Interoperability and Information Exchange: Recent healthcare legislation has placed a significant emphasis on improving interoperability in healthcare IT. Interoperability refers to the ability of different health IT systems to communicate and exchange data seamlessly. The focus on interoperability is driven by the belief that better data sharing can lead to improved patient care, reduced medical errors, and lower costs (Blumenthal et al., 2018).

The 21st Century Cures Act, for instance, mandated the implementation of application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow patients to access their health data through third-party apps (Grieve & Hefner, 2019). This shift in focus aimed to give patients greater control over their health information.

Telehealth Expansion: Another focus of recent legislation has been the expansion of telehealth services. Telehealth leverages technology to provide remote healthcare consultations and monitoring. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of telehealth, and legislation like the CARES Act provided financial support and regulatory flexibility to healthcare providers for delivering virtual care (Cohen & Rudin, 2021).

Data Privacy and Security: With the increasing digitization of healthcare data, ensuring the privacy and security of patient information became paramount. Legislation like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe aimed to strengthen data protection, while also influencing healthcare IT practices globally (Ventola, 2020).

Value-Based Care: The shift from fee-for-service to value-based care has been a central theme in recent healthcare legislation. Value-based care models focus on improving patient outcomes and reducing costs by incentivizing healthcare providers to deliver high-quality care. Healthcare IT plays a crucial role in collecting and analyzing data to support these models (Meyer & Manchikanti, 2019).

Did We Realize the Intended Benefits?

The intended benefits of recent healthcare legislation were multifaceted, encompassing improved patient care, increased efficiency, cost reduction, and enhanced patient engagement. Let’s examine whether these benefits have been realized.

Improved Patient Care: Interoperability initiatives, driven by legislation like the 21st Century Cures Act, have made strides in improving patient care (Blumenthal et al., 2018). By enabling healthcare providers to access a patient’s complete medical history from different sources, healthcare decisions can be more informed, potentially leading to better outcomes and reduced medical errors (Ammenwerth et al., 2020).

Increased Efficiency: The push for interoperability and telehealth expansion has also contributed to increased efficiency (Cohen & Rudin, 2021). Telehealth, for example, reduces the need for physical visits, leading to time savings for both patients and healthcare providers. Furthermore, the use of EHRs has streamlined administrative tasks and reduced paperwork (Buntin et al., 2020).

Cost Reduction: While cost reduction remains a challenging goal in healthcare, some benefits have been realized (Meyer & Manchikanti, 2019). Interoperability can help eliminate redundant tests and procedures, reducing unnecessary healthcare spending (Adler-Milstein et al., 2020). Additionally, the shift to value-based care, facilitated by healthcare IT, incentivizes cost-effective care delivery.

Enhanced Patient Engagement: Legislation promoting patient access to their health data has empowered patients to take a more active role in their healthcare (Grieve & Hefner, 2019). Patients can now access their records, view test results, and communicate with healthcare providers through secure online portals or mobile apps. This increased engagement can lead to better health outcomes (Tulu et al., 2020).

However, challenges remain. Achieving full interoperability across the healthcare landscape is an ongoing process, and information blocking practices persist in some cases, hindering the seamless exchange of data (Blumenthal et al., 2018). Additionally, the rapid expansion of telehealth during the pandemic revealed disparities in access to technology, limiting its reach to certain populations (Cohen & Rudin, 2021).

Impact on Healthcare IT

The impact of recent healthcare legislation on healthcare IT has been substantial, with both positive and negative consequences.

Positive Impact

Advancements in Interoperability: Legislation like the 21st Century Cures Act has driven healthcare IT vendors to prioritize interoperability (Blumenthal et al., 2018). EHR systems are now more likely to support data exchange through standardized interfaces, making it easier for different systems to communicate (Ammenwerth et al., 2020).

Telehealth Transformation: Telehealth has experienced a dramatic transformation due to legislative support (Cohen & Rudin, 2021). Healthcare providers have invested in telehealth infrastructure, and patients have become more comfortable with virtual consultations. This shift has the potential to improve healthcare access and convenience (Koonin et al., 2020).

Patient-Centered Care: Legislation promoting patient access to their health data has pushed healthcare IT systems to develop patient portals and apps (Grieve & Hefner, 2019). Patients can now access their records, view test results, and interact with their healthcare team online, promoting a more patient-centered approach (Tulu et al., 2020).

Data Security: Legislation has spurred investments in data security and privacy measures in healthcare IT systems (Ventola, 2020). This has led to better protection of patient information and compliance with data protection regulations like HIPAA and GDPR (Adler-Milstein et al., 2020).

Negative Impact

Implementation Costs: The adoption of healthcare IT systems, including EHRs and interoperability solutions, has incurred significant costs for healthcare providers (Buntin et al., 2020). Smaller practices, in particular, have faced financial challenges in implementing these technologies.

Data Blocking Challenges: While legislation aims to eliminate information blocking, challenges persist in ensuring full compliance (Blumenthal et al., 2018). Some healthcare organizations may resist sharing data due to concerns about data security, liability, or competition (Adler-Milstein et al., 2020).

Technology Disparities: The rapid shift to telehealth highlighted technology disparities among patients (Cohen & Rudin, 2021). Not everyone has access to the necessary devices or reliable internet connections for virtual care, leading to unequal access to healthcare services (Koonin et al., 2020).

Burnout and Usability: Healthcare IT systems, especially EHRs, have been criticized for their impact on healthcare provider burnout (Buntin et al., 2020). Cumbersome interfaces and excessive documentation requirements can contribute to provider dissatisfaction.


Recent healthcare legislation, spanning from 2018 to 2023, has had a profound impact on healthcare IT. The focus on interoperability, telehealth, data privacy, and value-based care has driven significant changes in the healthcare landscape. While progress has been made in improving patient care, increasing efficiency, reducing costs, and enhancing patient engagement, challenges remain in achieving the full potential of these legislative initiatives.

The positive impact of recent healthcare legislation includes advancements in interoperability, the transformation of telehealth, a shift towards patient-centered care, and improved data security. However, implementation costs, data blocking challenges, technology disparities, and healthcare provider burnout are among the negative consequences that need to be addressed.

As healthcare continues to evolve, it is crucial to monitor the ongoing impact of legislation on healthcare IT and make necessary adjustments to ensure that the intended benefits are fully realized, and the negative consequences are mitigated. Legislation must strike a delicate balance between driving innovation and ensuring equitable access to high-quality healthcare for all.


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Ammenwerth, E., Iller, C., & Mahler, C. (2020). IT-adoption and the interaction of task, technology and individuals: A fit framework and a case study. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making, 17(1), 91.

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Koonin, L. M., Hoots, B., Tsang, C. A., Leroy, Z., Farris, K., Jolly, B., … & Harris, A. M. (2020). Trends in the use of telehealth during the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic—United States, January–March 2020. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 69(43), 1595.

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