AHA: Health IT Bill will 'Adversely Impact' Quality Initiatives

The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday approved H.R. 6357, legislation intended to promote the adoption of health information technology while protecting patient privacy. In a letter to the committee dated Tuesday and signed by American Hospital Association Executive Vice President Rick Pollack, AHA expressed concern that some of the bill's provisions would undermine that intent. The provisions would require health care providers and others using electronic medical records to account for disclosures of protected health information (except for oral disclosures) made in the course of treatment, payment, and health care operations.

"[T]he sheer volume of information generated in direct care activities, payment and health care operations, and the storage capacity needed to hold the information and make it accessible and intelligible to patients, would divert already-scarce resources away from patient care," Pollack wrote, noting that the bill also would require patients to give written consent before a provider could use any information in their EMR for "health care operations," which for hospitals would include all internal quality assurance activities, physician credentialing, and graduate medical education.

"We urge the committee to address these considerations as the legislative process moves forward," Pollack wrote. "If enacted in its present form, the bill would adversely impact existing quality initiatives that we have worked to implement." To read the complete letter, click here.

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