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2016 will be a big year for health IT

Kenneth Corbin | Dec. 11, 2015
Administration officials and lawmakers look ahead to policy changes that would improve EHR usability and interoperability in the coming years.

"We want to help catalyze and develop these efforts in the marketplace," she says.

DeSalvo notes that states typically have a common infrastructure set up for health information, and is laying out the goal of bringing those systems together for a nationwide data network in the coming year.

On the usability side, her office is planning to convene two development challenges to help "drive the best [apps] to the top," and is looking to bring together industry members to lay the groundwork for what could become an app store for health IT systems and applications.

Health IT issues, and interoperability and usability in particular, have been a hot topic on Capitol Hill this year. The Senate Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee has convened six hearings on the subject, and members of that panel are trying to advance legislation that would establish a health IT rating system, allowing users to evaluate systems on the common criteria of interoperability, security and usability.

The TRUST IT bill would also include provisions that would make federal certification contingent on vendors not walling off patient data within their proprietary systems, one factor that the author of the legislation, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), says has made EHRs a "leading cause of physician dissatisfaction."

Cassidy and co-sponsor Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) note that the concerns about health IT systems living up to their promise of improving care and lowering costs are shared across the aisle, and look ahead to movement on their legislation in the coming year.

"I think we have hopes that our bill could pass," Whitehouse says. "The prospects for something real happening are significant."


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