Health IT Now, BPC, and Leading Health Care, Technology Groups Promote New Vision for Health IT Policy

Washington, D.C.– Health IT Now and the Bipartisan Policy Center, along with nearly 50 individuals representing clinicians, patients, hospitals, and technology companies, releases a report today calling for a more modern health IT and digital health framework that assures consumer protections, reduces burden among users and developers, and accelerates innovation.

(Watch the event webcast at 10 a.m.)

The report, The Future Role of Government in Health IT and Digital Health, highlights principles and recommendations for policymakers as they consider new ways to reduce burdens and advance regulatory reforms.

Since the enactment of the Health Information Technology Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act nine years ago, adoption of electronic health records has grown to nearly 90 percent among the nation’s physicians and hospitals. However, as the report points out, our nation’s current regulatory framework has not kept up with advances in technology, leading to dissatisfaction and increased burden among its users and developers.

  • Practicing physicians spend about half of their workdays on EHRs and desk work, including 37 percent of their time in the examination room with patients, and one to two hours each night, which are devoted mostly to tasks conducted using an EHR.
  • Emergency physicians spend about 44 percent of their time on data entry, versus 28 percent on direct patient care.
  • Submitting quality data can also be time-consuming and burdensome, taking on average 11 hours and costing $723.50 per eligible clinician.

The work group agreed that an ideal oversight framework should be flexible, risk-based, stable and predictable, accountable to the public, and undergo continuous improvement and innovation.

The report recommends that the federal government’s future role in health IT and digital health should focus on the following functions:

  1. Provide assurance that core consumer protections are met
  2. Recognize private sector standards and promote their adoption
  3. Convene experts and stakeholders to identify issues and challenges that need to be addressed
  4. Fund research and development activities to continue to advance the field

It also emphasizes that the framework must assure that technology is user-friendly, safe, secure, interoperable, enables patients easy access to their health information, and flexible enough to meet the changing needs of consumers and an evolving health care system.

To transition into this future role, the report calls for proper continued implementation of provisions in the 21st Century Cures Act; careful review and reduction or elimination of prescriptive technology requirements contained in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid’s quality improvement, payment, and delivery system reform programs; and an overhaul of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) Health IT Certification Program.

“For too long, federal regulation of health IT has favored reporting and process over care and treatment. These regulations steal time from patient care with little to no tangible benefit. Under the leadership of Health IT Now and BPC, our work group has laid out a less burdensome, more rational, innovation conducive, and patient friendly oversight framework that ensures the government focuses on upholding core consumer safety protections while allowing other health IT functions to rest with the private sector – where they belong,” said Joel White, executive director of Health IT Now.

“Congress and the administration have an excellent opportunity to build a better system that both accelerates innovation and protects patients,” said Janet Marchibroda, director of BPC’s health innovation initiative. “Competition and incentives can produce innovative tools that ultimately help providers and patients deliver and receive high-quality, cost-effective, and patient-centered care.”