Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) Jan. 20 released a staff discussion draft of the committee’s bipartisan legislation to improve health information technology (IT), including electronic health records.
The draft legislation is the product of a bipartisan, full committee health information technology working group announced by Senators Alexander and Murray last April, as well as a series of bipartisan hearings held by the committee.
Chairman Alexander said, “Health information moving seamlessly among doctors and hospitals is vital for the future of medicine and essential to improving patient care. The committee has been working for months on legislation to help improve electronic health records, and it involves especially technical work to get this right, which is why 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.”
Senator Murray echoed, “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 decision making and treatment.”
According to a summary released by the committee, the bill would:
- Assist doctors and hospitals in improving the quality of care for patients;
- Establish transparent ratings on usability and security to transform information technology;
- Give the Department of Health and Human Services 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;
- Enhance interoperability;
- Leverage health information technology to improve patient care;
- Empower patients and improve patient access to their electronic health information;
- Support the secure exchange of electronic health information by certifying that one EHR product is capable of trusted exchange with multiple other EHR products.
Senate HELP committee members are seeking feedback on the draft by Jan. 29 and ask that all comments be submitted to HealthIT@help.senate.gov.