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House Hearing Explores Intersection of Health Care and Technology

July 18, 2014—The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology and Subcommittee on Health July 17 held a joint hearing entitled “21st Century Technology for 21st Century Cures.”

Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chair Greg Walden (R-Ore.) began by noting the hearing combined the committee’s efforts to update the Communications Act with its 21st Century Cures Initiative. “It makes sense to unite these two initiatives, as they are both critically important not only to industries that are crucial to the economy, but also for every person here,” Walden said, adding, “The growth in this area has been remarkable; there is a technological revolution happening in the health space.”

Health Subcommittee Chair Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) said, “These and other technologies hold great potential for the future of health care and personalized medicine. In order to realize this potential, however, we are going to have to address barriers that currently make full integration difficult.”

Dave Vockell, CEO, LyfeChannel, testified, “Technology doesn't change behavior, it just potentially creates a new access point to things that do change patient behavior…. Technology experiences that reinforce the drivers of good health behavior create patient-led, not technology-led solutions.” He provided examples of “innovative large institutions that unleashed great innovative momentum through aggressive piloting and partnership with third parties.”

Describing himself as “a serial entrepreneur,” Dan Riskin, M.D., founder, Health Fidelity, acknowledged the role of federal funding in his success. He testified he has been principal investigator on multiple grants from the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation, and that each grant resulted in creation of multiple long-term high-paying skilled jobs. “For every federal dollar received, I have secured at least $15 in follow-on private sector investment,” he added.

Riskin’s testimony focused on three recommendations to promote safe and meaningful innovation in health care:

  • redefining interoperability to share the information that is needed for clinical analytics and population health;
  • revising our approach to quality to better align with improved outcomes and reduced costs; and
  • supporting academic and clinical research on health care IT risks and benefits to help refine regulations over time.

Paul Misener, vice president, Global Public Policy, Amazon, suggested ways Congress could help accelerate the innovation cycle of discovery, development, and delivery of new biomedical treatments and cures by facilitating the use of cloud computing for health care.  These included having the National Institutes of Health (NIH) establish and operate cloud-based data management platforms, which federally-funded researchers could use to share their data. 

Misener also said Congress could work with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to modernize implementation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) so that health care providers can employ the benefits of cloud computing without compromising the law’s health information privacy protections.

Robert Jarrin, senior director of government affairs, Qualcomm Incorporated, recommended the inclusion of remote patient monitoring technologies and patient-generated health data (PGHD) into certified EHRs in future stages of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) meaningful use rules. 

Jonathan Niloff, M.D., chief medical officer and vice president, McKesson Connected Care and Analytics, McKesson Corporation, said payment and care models must be aligned to fully harness the potential of interoperable technology. He also called for a new risk-based regulatory framework that establishes three categories of health IT according to the potential risk to the patient and the opportunity for clinical intervention. 

In addition, Niloff said the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act should be updated to clarify that clinical and administrative software should not be regulated as a medical device.


Tannaz Rasouli
Sr. Director, Public Policy & Strategic Outreach
Telephone: 202-828-0525


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