Health IT Now: Health regulatory framework must be 'trusting of IT'

Patients would benefit from a health regulatory framework that is less rigid and more "trusting of IT," according to a new white paper published this week by Health IT Now, in conjunction with health analytics firm Apervita.

The authors suggest a "two-step regulatory solution" to improve the industry that includes an increased push for interoperability of electronic health data, as well as the "democratization of health data analytics." They call for reform of Meaningful Use, saying that only interoperable systems should qualify for the program, and also note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration needs more "fixed regulatory boundaries" to reduce risk and propel innovation.

"Congress needs to clarify how health IT products are regulated and correct the dysfunctional Meaningful Use program," Joel White, a senior advisor to Health IT Now and the group's former CEO, said in a statement. "This will benefit health IT manufacturers, doctors and hospitals and, most importantly, patients. … The innovation community is asking Congress and the administration to step off the brakes and let them step on the gas pedal to produce more improvements through technology."

The authors note that poor interoperability across care settings serves as a hurdle to care coordination, which can lead to duplicative care efforts, among other issues. They say that Congress must define interoperability in federal statute, and add that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) must be modified to clarify the role of the law as it pertains to balancing patient privacy with sharing information for public good.

"The medical industry--with its expensive, labor-intensive ways--stands increasingly at odds with the technical society that supports it," the authors say. "This seemingly stubborn resistance to change is the byproduct of rules that hardwire old ways of operating to developing innovations in the IT architecture."

To learn more:
- here's the white paper (.pdf)
- read the Health IT Now announcement