EHR Bill Passed by Senate Committee
The Improving Health Information Technology Act calls for transparent ratings on EHR usability and security, among other measures, and on February 10, 2016, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) passed the bipartisan Improving Health Information Technology Act. The legislation now moves on for a vote on the Senate floor at an as-yet-undetermined date.
A unanimous vote of 22-0 to have transparent ratings on EHR usability and security occurred. The bill also agrees to gather the data-sharing networks that already exist to make a common agreement for protected transfer of health information across existing networks, in addition to developing a model framework. Another goal is for the Government Accountability Office to safely match patient records with the right individual through conducting a study of various methods.
Senator Lamar Alexander made a statement, “Our goal is to make our country’s electronic health record system something that helps patients rather than something that doctors and hospitals dread so much that patients are not helped.”
The committee also passed on February 9, 2016 six medical innovation and research bills that it hopes to package with additional health/medical legislation on HELP’s March 9 meeting agenda. Ultimately, the committee intends to produce companion legislation to the House’s 21st Century Cures Act.
2511’s main sections cover the following areas:
- Helping doctors and hospitals improve quality of care by reducing documentation burdens (including allowing non-physicians on care teams to document on behalf of physicians), and encouraging certification of health IT products for specialty providers and sites of service.
- Establishing an unbiased rating system for health IT products. Such a system would allow technology users to share experiences with specific products related to security, usability, interoperability and other concerns.
- Bestowing authority to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’ Office of the Inspector General to investigate and establish deterrents to information blocking practices.
- Developing a model framework and common agreement for the secure exchange of health information across existing data sharing networks. Also, a digital provider directory would be created within three years of enactment to facilitate information exchange and allow users to verify the correct recipient.
- Requiring certified health IT products to exchange data with registries — with the provision that the registries use standards endorsed by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.
- Supporting development of technology that would enable patients to access their health information through secure and user-friendly software that may update automatically. This patient-empowerment section also encourages the use of health information exchanges to promote patient access, and requires HHS to clarify when providers may share patient information.
- Directing the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study to review methods for securely matching patient records to the correct patient.