• The Senate introduced new bipartisan HIT legislation meant to further increase the quality and transparency of EHRs.
  • The new legislation incorporates ideas from an old bill called the TRUST IT Act, meant to establish an unbiased EHR rating system.
  • So far, the legislation is unnamed

The state of health information technology (HIT) in the U.S is rapidly evolving. With a concerted push by the government towards interoperability, transparency, and security, providers must pick an EHR that is fully capable of adapting to new regulations. Luckily, we break down the new legislation so you can prepare for what’s ahead.

Combining Old Ideas into New Legislation

Last fall, the Senate introduced a bill called the Transparent Ratings on Usability and Security to Transform Information Technology (TRUST IT) Act, meant to establish an unbiased rating system for various HIT systems. In addition, the bill would have included interoperability standards for product certification, and prevent health IT vendors from blocking information or including non-disclosure clauses in their contracts.

Part of TRUST IT bill has been absorbed into new legislation, proposed by the U.S. Senate’s Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee. The new legislation aims to increase interoperability and functionality of electronic health records, among a variety of other things. The U.S HELP committee breaks down the bill into distinct sections:

  • Implementation of the TRUST IT Act: Establishes an unbiased rating system for HIT products to. Allows HIT users to share feedback on the user experience of specific HIT products related to security, usability, and interoperability, among other concerns.
  • Information Blocking: Allows the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Inspector General the authority to investigate and establish deterrents to information blocking practices.
  • Interoperability: Combines networks of data sharing networks to develop an infrastructure of a “network of networks”. Creates a digital provider directory to both facilitate exchange and allow users to verify the correct recipient.
  • Leveraging Health Information Technology to Improve Patient Care: Requires that certified HIT transmits and receive data from certified physician registries and that registries be certified to transmit and receive from certified HIT. Includes vendors in Patient Safety Organizations to allow for improvements in the safety and effectiveness of HIT.
  • Patient Access to Their Electronic Health Information: Supports the certification and development of patient-centered health record technology so that patients can access their health information through secure and user-friendly software, which may update automatically. Encourages the use of Health Information Exchanges to promote patient access by educating providers and clarifying misunderstandings. Requires HHS to clarify situations where it is permissible for providers to share patient information by providing best practices and common cases where sharing is allowed.
  • Encouraging Trust Relationships for Certified Electronic Health Records (EHR): Supports the secure exchange of electronic health information by certifying that one EHR product is capable of trusted exchange with multiple other EHR products.
  • GAO Study on Patient Matching: Directs the Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study to review methods for securely matching patient records to the correct patient.
  • Assisting Doctors and Hospitals in Improving Quality of Care for Patients: Reduces documentation burdens by convening public and private stakeholders to develop goals, a strategy, and recommendations to minimize the documentation burden on providers while maintaining quality. Allows and encourages health professionals to practice at the top of their license, allowing non-physician members of the care team, such as nurses, to document on behalf of physicians. Encourages the certification of health information technology (HIT) for specific specialty providers, like pediatricians, where more specialized technology is needed.

Interoperability, Transparency, and Security

The big themes of the new legislation are interoperability, transparency, and security. These goals aren’t new—from HIPAA, to incentive programs like Meaningful Use and the Physician Quality Reporting System—this new legislation is simply the newest byproduct of a push towards quality, regulated health care. Choosing an EHR that is fully aware of the political landscape makes it easier for your practice to adapt to new regulations and procedures.

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