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Washington Debrief: House Committee Leaders Pledge Heightened Attention to Health IT in 2017

September 19, 2016
by Leslie Kriegstein, Vice President of Congressional Affairs, CHIME
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Key House Committee Leaders Pledge Heightened Attention to Health IT in 2017

Key Takeaway: A key House Committee held a hearing last week to explore how healthcare technology can create efficiencies in care delivery, improve outcomes and reduce cost.

Why It Matters: Congressional interest in health information technology continues as the election nears. Last week the House Committee on Ways and Means Health Subcommittee hosted a hearing entitled, “Exploring the Use of Technology and Innovation to Create Efficiencies, Higher Quality, and Better Access for Beneficiaries in Health Care.”

The Subcommittee, under the leadership of Chairman Pat Tiberi (R-OH-12) and Ranking Member Jim McDermott (D-WA-07), heard from an electronic health record vendor, a health plan, a physician practice and a healthcare technology company. Chairman Tiberi mentioned that the Committee will focus heavily on healthcare technology in 2017.

Topics including telehealth reimbursement expansion, information blocking, EHR adoption and care coordination were discussed by Committee members and witnesses alike. Lawmakers questioned how the federal government can balance appropriate regulatory responsibilities with the need to foster promising technologies and expedite proven innovative approaches to providing health care.

HHS Announces Millions in New Health IT Grants

Key Takeaway: HHS has announced new grants to help health centers with IT enhancements

Why it Matters: HHS announced $87 million in new grants to help 1,400 health centers operating in 9,800 locations nationwide caring for more than 24 million patients, to help them make upgrades to their health IT systems. This funding comes from the Affordable Care Act’s Community Health Center (CHC) Fund, which was extended with bipartisan support in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015. For a list of 2016 recipients by state go here.

Patient Engagement using HIT

Key Takeaway: ONC release new data on patient engagement.

Why it Matters: Last week ONC released a new data brief and blog detailing on patient use of technology and the availability of it in the hospital setting.  They state, “the data show that 95 percent of the nation’s hospitals provide patients with the ability to view their health information electronically, 87 percent provide individuals the ability to download their health information, and 69 percent of them provide patients with the ability to view, download, and transmit their health information in 2015.”  They also note:

  • Since 2013, there has been a significant increase in the percent of hospitals that provide patients the ability to electronically view, download, and transmit their health information.
  • As of 2015, disparities exist in the adoption of view, download, and transmit functionalities between large hospitals and other types of hospitals (e.g., medium, small and Critical Access Hospitals).
  • The number and variety of patient engagement functionalities offered by hospitals continued to increase significantly in 2015.

House Passes Resolution Expressing Need for a National Strategy Concerning the “Internet of Things”

Key Takeaway: Last week the House of Representatives passed a resolution expressing the sense of Congress that the need exists for "a national strategy to encourage development of the Internet of Things for connected technologies to empower consumers, foster future economic growth, and improve the nation's collective social well-being."

Why It Matters: The resolution, which passed the House by a vote of 367-4, cites the importance of the “Internet of Things” and the need for a cohesive national strategy, which must be cross-sector, including healthcare. H.Res. 847,  sponsored by Representative Leonard Lance (R-NJ-07), cites the potential for the connected devices, through the Internet of Things, to stimulate trillions of dollars in economic opportunity.


Baldridge Cybersecurity Excellence Builder

Key Takeaway: NIST is seeking comments on their draft Baldridge Cybersecurity Excellence Builder.