The last time you were at the doctor were you asked your preferred language or what your ethnicity was? Maybe you were asked for your height and weight and thought do you really need to know that? Perhaps you asked one of the employees only to be told "I don't know it's just something the government requires."
Did you ever wonder why?
In 2009, President Obama signed into law the the HITECH Act as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) called for the adoption of electronic health records (EHR). Provider who implement electronic health records would be eligible for incentive payments to offse the cost of upgrading their systems and would penalize those providers, who haven't adopted EHR technology, after 2015.
As part of the law providers must show meaningful use. The Federal Government has outlined many objectives that providers must try to meet, with a vast majority of them being mandatory. Asking for your preferred language, ethnicity as well as height and weight are some of the mandatory items we have to ask. 
You may be asking yourself so what does this mean to me? The answer? A lot. First it is designed to help patients understand their health and take a more active role. Providers will be giving health summaries to their patients which will allow you, the patient, to share with other healthcare providers. It will help minimize the duplication of lab tests or other procedures thus saving money and time. Long term the objective is to have all the EHR programs interface with each other. Imagine seeing your doctor in Florda when you are there for the winter and he/she has access to your complete medical file from your doctor in Ohio. Though not there yet, we will be.
So the next time you are at your doctor's office and they ask about the smoking status of your teenager don't be surprised... it's required for meaningful use.
For more information on HITECH,

Contact Eye Centers Of Northwest Ohio

2311 Hayes Avenue
Fremont, Ohio 43420
(419) 334-8121
622 Parkway Drive
Fostoria, Ohio 44830
(419) 435-3482
Fremont: (419) 334-8121 - Fostoria: (419) 435-3482