Lawmakers recommend $10M advisory panel to improve health data interoperability

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Lawmakers have proposed changes that would significantly alter the way sensitive health data is prepared, managed and exchanged.

The revisions, included in draft legislation the House Energy and Commerce Committee began reviewing Thursday, would create a new, $10 million federal standards advisory body dedicated to improving the electronic exchange, or interoperability, of health information among providers, Bloomberg news services reported. They also would also prevent federally certified electronic health record “products” from purposefully blocking electronic sharing of patient health data and make it easier for federal regulators to revoke certification for an EHR system, as well as limit the FDA's oversight of mobile health applications.

The proposed 21st Century Cures Act was initiated last year under the Obama Administration to address the need for streamlining research and product/drug approvals and spurring innovation.

For long-term care providers, the biggest impact likely will come in the way EHR systems are chosen and implemented.

For example, the Department of Health & Human Services would have to closely abide by the new IT advisory board's standards in its health IT certification program unless different methods would “substantially reduce administrative costs to healthcare providers and health plans compared to the alternatives,” the news service reported.

Current proposals require HHS to outline strategies for achieving and assess current interoperability among providers' widespread interoperability of EHR systems by July 2016. In addition, lawmakers have asked for more evidence about the benefits of the meaningful use program, which has paid more than $30 billion so far to providers that have adopted EHR, the news service added.