Bills Stalled in Effort to Standardize Health Data, Give Patients Access

By M.L. Baker Print this article Print

Under the Independent Health Record Bank Act, individual patients would be able to view and edit their own records. Meanwhile, legislators delay the vote on a bill to make health information systems interoperable.

While members of Congress in June introduced legislation that would create nonprofit institutions charged with managing patients' electronic health records for a lifetime, a separate House bill to make health information systems interoperable has stalled.

Both bills encourage technology that would allow physicians at one institution to see what treatments a patient has received from another, an ability expected to improve follow-up care and reduce duplicate procedures.

Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and Reps. Dennis Moore, D-Kan., and Paul Ryan, R-Wis., introduced legislation calling for a new kind of organization known as an IHRB (independent health record bank) to operate lifetime health records. For-profit institutions such as health IT vendors and banks would likely sell services to the IHRBs.

Supporters of the bill describe it as the backbone of a national health information network that could yield potential savings. Under the legislation, individual patients would be able to view and edit their own records, and could sell blinded data for consumer studies.

Already, dozens of RHIOs (regional health information organizations) are gearing up to help clinicians at different institutions as well as insurance providers share information. Yet according to one recent survey, 70 percent of RHIOs are not yet exchanging live information between multiple partners.

However, many RHIOs do not store data themselves but provide a way for providers in one institution to access information at another institution.

The second bill (HR 4157), sponsored by Reps. Nancy Johnson, R-Conn., and Nathan Deal, R-Ga., was supposed to come to the floor on or shortly after June 19, but legislators decided to delay the vote after the Congressional Budget Office determined it would increase spending and decrease revenues.

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: Bills to Share Health Data Introduced, Stalled

This article was originally published on 2006-06-21
Monya Baker is co-editor of CIOInsight.com's Health Care Center. She has written for publications including the journal Nature Biotechnology, the Acumen Journal of Sciences and the American Medical Writers Association, among others, and has worked as a consultant with biotechnology companies. A former high school science teacher, Baker holds a bachelor's degree in biology from Carleton College and a master's of education from Harvard.
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