Grassley seeks more info on IT vendor relationships
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter asking 31 hospitals and systems to report on their relationships with healthcare information technology vendors, focusing on errors caused by IT systems and on so-called “gag order or nondisclosure clauses” in vendor contracts that might prohibit the hospitals from disclosing information about system flaws. Grassley said the hospital letter was a follow-up to a similar request for information he made in October 2009 to 10 major health IT systems developers. Grassley said in a written statement that he was concerned about “difficulties and challenges” with health IT implementations in light of the billions of dollars that will be spent on health IT under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The letter asked the hospitals to respond to 11 questions, several of which focused on IT-related errors, restrictions in vendor contracts barring providers from discussing or reporting problems with their software and financial relationships between hospitals and vendors. Included among the hospitals and systems queried were Intermountain Healthcare, Salt Lake City; 833-bed Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville; and 907-bed Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.