Full Committee Hearing - Meeting the Need for Interoperability and Information Security in Healthcare IT
Ms. Linda L. Kloss
Chief Executive Officer of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)
Dr. David E. Silverstone
Clinical Professor at Yale School of Medicine and Assistant Chief of Ophthalmology at Yale New Haven Hospital. He serves as chairman of the Health Information Technology Committee of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery
Mr. Michael Raymer
Vice President and General Manager for Product Strategy and New Business Initiatives at GE Healthcare Integrated IT Solutions
Ms. Noel Williams
President of the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) Information Technology & Services, Inc.
Mr. Justin T. Barnes
Vice President of Marketing and Government Affairs for Greenway Medical Technologies, Inc.
COMMITTEE EVALUATES NIST’S ROLE IN HEALTHCARE IT
Witnesses Caution Against Impeding Current Progress
WASHINGTON D.C. - September 26, 2007 – The Science and Technology Committee, today, held its first hearing examining the broad use and interoperability of health information technology (HIT), and the role the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) should play in implementing such a system. Specifically, witnesses were asked to comment on H.R. 2406, legislation introduced by Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), that expands NIST’s role in testing standards to create a nationwide HIT network.
Recognizing the important role that such a system could play in America’s healthcare system, Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX) said, “Many sectors of our economy rely on information technology to increase efficiency and minimize errors. The healthcare sector should not be different. We invest over $1.7 trillion annually in healthcare, and yet the system is plagued with inefficiency.”
Hall, however, raised several questions about the legislation, saying, “Since there is already a vehicle in place that is setting policy related to healthcare interoperability at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will this bill disrupt that process? Since NIST is already helping to create standards, I want to make sure that legislation will assist that process, rather than hamper it.”
As a Physician and the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation, Rep. Phil Gingrey M.D. (R-GA), shared a unique perspective on the importance of improving the HIT system. He said that “Properly implemented, HIT would enormously increase the efficiency within our healthcare system by increasing access to off-site charting and flagging charts for follow-up on recommended procedures. Further, it has the potential to eliminate duplicate testing that wastes patients’ money and time and often causes patients unnecessary pain and discomfort. Even more vital,” Gingrey said, “is the possibility of eliminating medical errors that that lead to almost 90,000 deaths each year.”
The witnesses all agreed on the importance of creating a comprehensive HIT system, and that NIST should play an important role. Some cautioned, however, that since NIST is already a player in creating HIT standards, Congress must be cautious about introducing legislation that changes that role.
One witness, Mr. Justin Barnes, Vice President of Marketing and Government Affairs at Greenway Medical Technologies, Inc., noted that, “NIST already plays an important role in public and private sector collaborations such as Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) and the Health Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP) and that role should be maintained.”
Barnes continued, “[I]t is crucial that influential bodies like Congress, the President’s Administration and NIST work together to maintain this impetus and not create a new alternative de facto testing, standards or certification authority.”
Ranking Member Hall concluded saying, “I think that it is clear we all seek to improve Health Information Technology Systems as quickly and smoothly as possible. I look forward to working with Chairman Gordon on his legislation to clear up some concerns, so we can move forward and make important improvements.”
Also testifying at today’s hearing were: Ms. Linda L. Kloss, Chief Executive Officer of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA); Dr. David E. Silverstone, Clinical Professor at Yale School of Medicine and Assistant Chief of Ophthalmology at Yale New Haven Hospital; Mr. Michael Raymer, Vice President and General Manager for Product Strategy and New Business Initiatives at GE Healthcare Integrated IT Solutions; and Ms. Noel Williams, President of the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) Information Technology & Services, Inc.