Experts Tout Health IT Progress During House Subcommittee Hearing
On Wednesday, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Farzad Mostashari and other healthÂ IT experts touted the benefits of the meaningful use program in testimony before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology,Â Government Health IT reports (Brino, Government Health IT, 11/14).
Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.
The congressional hearing comes after several Republican lawmakers raised questions about the value of the meaningful use program (Goedert, Health Data Management, 11/14).
Issues Raised During Hearing
During the hearing, House Technology and Innovation Subcommittee Chair Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) acknowledged that health IT has the potential to transform health care but expressed concern about federal spending on health IT initiatives. He said that "there are key questions that must be answered to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and to ensure that IT in the health care industry is used to reduce costs and improve care."
He also expressed concern about the lack of interoperability between health IT systems. "Without interoperability, many of the potential benefits of health IT could go unrealized," he said (Goedert, Health Data Management, 11/14).
In addition, some subcommittee members asked whether health IT work force training programs have generated a return on investment (Bowman, FierceEMR, 11/14).
Response From Mostashari, Others
Mostashari said that the health care industry is making considerable advancements in health IT adoption, noting that more than 150,000 physicians and 3,000 hospitals so far have received meaningful use incentive payments.
In response to the questions about interoperability, Mostashari said that the industry is making progress toward greater connectivity (Health Data Management, 11/14). "This is a long road," he said, adding, "But we have a roadmap, and we have, through meaningful use, a phased approach to being able to bring the floor up and create infrastructure in stage after stage after stage to help increase that journey toward interoperability."
In response to the questions about health IT work force training, Mostashari said that such programs are increasing their efforts to properly prepare students for health IT careers.
Willa Fields -- a professor at San Diego State University's school of nursing and board chair of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society -- added that some data on job prospects for graduates of federal health IT work force training programs do not account for students who received the same training materials through a non-federal program (FierceEMR, 11/14).
Comments About Health Data Exchange
During the hearing Marc Probst -- CIO of Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City -- said that the meaningful use program has led to progress in health IT adoption, but added that "this progress must be thoughtfully accelerated." He said, "We must leverage all of the expertise in the federal government to accelerate the adoption of standards that will make it easier to share health information so clinicians and patients have the information in the form and time they need it to make appropriate health care decisions" (Health Data Management, 11/14).
Charles Romine -- director of the IT laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology -- said that the health care industry is continuing to make progress in designing more effective and integrated EHR and health information exchange systems.
Rebecca Little -- senior vice president at Medicity, a health data exchange provider -- said that health information exchange is "the necessary ingredient to transforming patient care and creating a more effective, efficient and ultimately less costly health system" (Government Health IT, 11/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.