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Sen. Alexander: Failed EHR Program Holding back Precision Medicine Initiative

May 6, 2015
by Gabriel Perna
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Sen. Lamar Alexander Credit: U.S. Senate Committee on Health Education Labor & Pensions (HELP)
At a Congressional hearing, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said that in order for the promise of precision medicine to be realized, electronic health records (EHRs) have to be fixed. 
 
Alexander, Chairman of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, has been on the warpath, so to speak, against EHRs in the last few months. He and Murray, the HELP Committee’s Ranking Member, announced the creation of a bipartisan committee workgroup to identify ways to improve EHRs. A week before that, Alexander and asked Health and Human Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell to commit to bettering EHRs at a Senate hearing. 
 
In his latest jab against the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, Alexander said the failure of EHRs was holding back the precision medicine initiatives set forth by President Barack Obama. Citing Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.,  director of the National Institutes of Health, he said that a properly functioning, interoperable health records system is essential to assemble the genomes of one million individuals and for doctors to be able to use a patient’s genetic information when they write a prescription for individual patients.
 
“We’ve got to get these records to a place where the systems can talk to one another – that’s called interoperability – and also where more doctors, particularly the smaller physicians’ offices, want to adopt these systems, can afford the cost, and can be confident that their investment will be of value,” Alexander said during the hearing. 
 
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