Last week, members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce released draft legislation designed to strengthen the quality of health care and reduce medical errors and costs by encouraging the adoption of Health Information Technology (HIT). The discussion draft provides a roadmap for effectively promoting HIT and strengthening privacy protections for patients.

"Although shifting from paper to electronic health records would greatly benefit patients and health care providers, we currently lack the infrastructure to make this much-needed transition work," said Rep. John Dingell, Chairman of the Committee. "This provisions included in this proposal will encourage faster adoption of health information technology while also ensuring that patients' health information is protected. It was developed with strong bipartisan cooperation, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to craft legislation that can be moved swiftly through the Committee."

"Applying 21st Century information technology to the practice of medicine seems like a no-brainer in the Internet age, but some cling to a comfortable past with paper records in long, gray filing cabinets," added Rep. Joe Barton. "I think health care is about curing disease, treating injury and saving lives, and embracing the future can't help but advance that noble mission. This is a bipartisan discussion draft and it is intended to encourage bipartisan discussion, so I look forward to hearing from all sides on how they think we can make it better and avoid mistakes."

"The widespread adoption of Health Information Technology can help make our nation's health care system more efficient by reducing costs and improving quality," Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health said. "As we move towards greater reliance on electronic records for health data, we also need to be more vigilant in protecting those records, which are the most sensitive of all our personal information. I'm looking forward to getting feedback on this discussion draft and working with my colleagues and stakeholders as we move ahead."

"Expanding the use of information technology in health care holds the potential to save lives as well as money," said Rep. Nathan Deal. "Health IT was a top priority for me last Congress and I am glad we are moving forward on a bipartisan basis this year. I look forward to working to improve this discussion draft to move our health care system into the 21st Century."

In addition to the discussion draft, the members issued a memorandum (PDF), which outlines the legislation in detail.