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Senators Introduce Legislation to Improve Electronic Health Records

Proposed bill aims to fix problems and increase transparency

Two Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee members have introduced the Trust IT Act of 2015. The proposed legislation aims to establish a health information technology (IT) rating system that will 1) allow consumers to compare products, 2) ban IT vendors from including nondisclosure clauses in their contracts, and 3) require certification of products meeting specified security and interoperability requirements.

As reported in the National Journal, the bill comes at a time when the HELP com­mit­tee has made im­prov­ing health IT a pri­or­ity, and as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act works to bol­ster the ex­change of health in­form­a­tion through elec­tron­ic health re­cords (EHSs). In addition, the le­gis­la­tion’s in­tro­duc­tion coincided with the Health and Hu­man Ser­vices De­part­ment’s release of two fi­nal rules aimed at in­creas­ing in­ter­op­er­ab­il­ity and im­prov­ing pa­tient out­comes.

Part of the new bill deals with gag clauses; in Septem­ber, a Politico re­port noted that some firms mar­ket­ing EHR sys­tems have con­tracts that bar pro­viders from talk­ing about system “bugs.” An­oth­er key part of the bill is let­ting health care pro­viders com­pare products based on se­cur­ity, us­ab­il­ity, and in­ter­op­er­ab­il­ity. The bill would also es­tab­lish a health IT rat­ing sys­tem that would be avail­able on­line at the Of­fice of the Na­tion­al Co­ordin­at­or for Health In­form­a­tion Tech­no­logy web­site. An­oth­er pro­vi­sion of the bill would re­quire that health IT products would have to meet cer­tain se­cur­ity, in­ter­op­er­ab­il­ity, and user-friendly design re­quire­ments in or­der to be cer­ti­fied.

Source: National Journal, October 6, 2015.

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