Congress Urged to Pass Health Information Technology Legislation

"Health Information Technology will help streamline medical recordkeeping and improve access to quality health care by reducing paperwork and making communication faster and more accurate."

by / February 21, 2008

Members of the Health IT Now! Coalition and the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) called on Congress to pass health information technology legislation this year. This press conference was followed by a demonstration of cutting-edge health information technology showing how the implementation of health IT can revolutionize the benefits to patients, health care consumers, and health practitioners.

"We urge Congress to pass Health IT legislation this year," said the Honorable Nancy Johnson, co-chair of the Health IT Now! Coalition. "The technology is ready but the law is not. Congress must act so doctors and patients can reap the benefits of this vital technology."

Legislation is required to establish a federal foundation for a nationwide electronic system supporting patients and health care professionals. The network would replace paper-based records with a secure system that could prevent as many as 98,000 deaths each year and virtually eliminate most medical errors. Health IT would also create more convenient communication, and faster, more secure access to medical histories, test results and other critical information.

"As demonstrated today, ITI member companies are creating technological innovations that will help drive improvements across the health care industry and bring health information technology into the 21st century. ITI companies are also industry leaders in developing more robust and effective best practices for protecting patient privacy," Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) President Rhett Dawson said.

"It is critical Congress pass legislation this year to revolutionize health care through innovation," Dawson added. "Congress has a unique opportunity to accelerate the adoption of standards to speed the implementation of health IT, provide needed financial support, and assure strong privacy and security protections for patient information."

Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), authors of HR 3800 to promote Health IT, are expected to release a letter urging the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to take up and approve their bill for consideration by the full House.

"Health Information Technology will help streamline medical recordkeeping and improve access to quality health care by reducing paperwork and making communication faster and more accurate," Rogers said. "Our goal is to save lives by giving doctors and specialists easier and quicker access to lab and test results, ensuring that patient diagnosis and treatment can be given sooner and with more accuracy."

Congress is urged to pass legislation that will:

  • Establish in statute federal responsibility to lead a public-private process to create standards for system interoperability, product certification, and quality measures and an accelerated process for standards improvement;
  • Offer financial incentives to encourage the adoption of Health IT, and offer states, communities and other entities incentives to plan Health IT components and develop Health Information Exchanges;
  • Provide federal focus on consumer empowerment through patient education about electronic health; and
  • Establish federal leadership to resolve critical policy issues such as privacy and security as this life-saving system is being deployed.
Gina M. Scott Writer