Yesterday, the Senate’s HELP Committee unveiled a draft of legislation to help improve the use and development of health IT. Not surprisingly, interoperability and usability were common themes in the bill, which was the product of a bipartisan work group led by Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
“I’m pleased that we were able to make bipartisan progress toward strengthening our nation’s health IT infrastructure so that patients, families, and providers have better tools to drive medical decisionmaking and treatment,” said Murray. “This draft legislation is an important step forward, and I look forward to hearing feedback.”
The draft legislation, which can also be found here, calls for the following:
Assisting Physicians and Hospitals in Improving Care Quality
- Reduces documentation burdens by convening public and private stakeholders to develop goals, a strategy, and recommendations to minimize the documentation burden on providers while maintaining quality.
- Allows and encourages health professionals to practice at the top of their license, allowing non-physician members of the care team, such as nurses, to document on behalf of physicians.
- Encourages the certification of health information technology (HIT) for specific specialty providers, like pediatricians, where more specialized technology is needed.
Transparent Ratings on Usability and Security
- Establishes an unbiased rating system for HIT products to help providers better choose products.
- Allows HIT users to share feedback on the user experience of specific HIT products related to security, usability, and interoperability, among other concerns.
- Gives the HHS Office of the Inspector General the authority to investigate and establish deterrents to information blocking practices that interfere with appropriate sharing of electronic health information.
- Convenes existing data sharing networks to develop a model framework and common agreement for the secure exchange of health information across existing networks to help foster a “network of networks.”
- Creates a digital provider directory to both facilitate exchange and allow users to verify the correct recipient.
- Requires that HHS give deference to standards developed in the private sector.
- Combines the HIT Policy Committee and HIT Standards Committee into the HIT Advisory Committee.
- Creates a process for prioritizing the adoption of standards to focus on the most pressing problems faced by the health care community.
- Establishes an initial set of common data elements, such as a standard format for entering date of birth, to facilitate interoperability and streamline quality reporting.
Leveraging Health IT to Improve Care
- Requires that certified HIT transmit and receive data from certified physician registries and that registries be certified to transmit and receive from certified HIT.
- Includes vendors in Patient Safety Organizations to allow for improvements in the safety and effectiveness of HIT.
Improving Patient Access to Data
- Supports the certification and development of patient-centered health record technology so that patients can access their health information through secure and user-friendly software, which may update automatically.
- Encourages the use of Health Information Exchanges to promote patient access by educating providers and clarifying misunderstandings.
- Requires HHS to clarify situations where it is permissible for providers to share patient information by providing best practices and common cases where sharing is allowed.
Encouraging Trust Relationships for Certified EHRs
- Supports the secure exchange of electronic health information by certifying that one EHR product is capable of trusted exchange with multiple other EHR products.
GAO Study on Patient Matching
- Directs the Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study to review methods for securely matching patient records to the correct patient.
“Health information moving seamlessly among doctors and hospitals is vital for the future of medicine and essential to improving patient care,” said Alexander. “Our committee looks forward to feedback on today’s draft from doctors, hospitals, health IT developers, and other experts in this area of health care.”
Feedback must be submitted via email to HealthIT@help.senate.gov by Jan. 29.