Senate HELP Committee issues HIT draft legislation

The U.S. Senate's Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee has released a discussion draft of legislation that aims to improve the overall use and development of health IT.

The legislation includes measures of the Transparent Ratings on Usability and Security to Transform Information Technology (TRUST IT) Act proposed last fall by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). It strongly emphasizes the interoperability and usability of EHR systems through the following:

  • The creation by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) of "an unbiased rating system" for health IT tools: The tools should allow for user feedback. Legislators want "summaries, screenshots, video demonstrations, or any other information" deemed "appropriate" by ONC to be made publicly available.
  • A "network of networks" to foster interoperability: Such a network would be convened by existing data-sharing networks and fueled by a "common agreement" for securely exchanging health data.
  • A digital provider directory.
  • Federal investigations into information blocking: The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General would have the authority to examine and "establish deterrents to" information blocking practices.
  • Documentation privileges for nonphysician care team members: Nurses acting on behalf of physicians, for example.
  • Overall reduction of documentation by providers: Strategies and goals for which would be developed both by public and private stakeholders.
  • The combination of the Health IT Policy and the HIT Standards committees into one HIT Advisory Committee.
  • Establishment of an "initial set of common data elements" to propel interoperability: One example is a standard format for entering a patient's date of birth.
  • Improved patient safety efforts that include a requirement that certified physician registries transmit and receive information from certified health IT systems, as well as vendor participation in patient safety organizations.
  • Patient matching efforts: Including initiatives in which the Government Accountability Office conducts a study reviewing patient-matching methods.