Federal com­mit­tee to pro­pose Health IT Safety Cen­ter

Modern Healthcare - - THE WEEK AHEAD - —Dar­ius Tahir

A pro­posal to ad­dress and over­see safety con­cerns re­lated to health in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy is ex­pected to face federal re­view this week.

An ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee has been meet­ing over the past month to for­mu­late rec­om­men­da­tions for a pro­posed Health IT Safety Cen­ter. It will present rec­om­men­da­tions July 8 to the Of­fice of the Na­tional Co­or­di­na­tor for Health In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy’s Pol­icy Com­mit­tee.

The safety cen­ter is in­tended to ad­dress safety prob­lems aris­ing from health IT prod­ucts, and is cen­tered around what com­mit­tee chair­man Dr. David Bates terms “the three Es”: en­gage­ment of de­vel­op­ers, providers and other stake­hold­ers; gath­er­ing ev­i­dence, whether di­rectly from ven­dors and providers, or in­di­rectly through pa­tient-safety or­ga­ni­za­tions; and ed­u­ca­tion of providers and ven­dors.

The safety cen­ter will be a pri­vate-pub­lic part­ner­ship, with some fund­ing from the ONC budget. A key ques­tion through­out the ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee’s dis­cus­sions has been the ONC’s re­la­tion­ship with the pri­vate sec­tor—the cen­ter will not likely have in­ves­tiga­tive or sub­poena power. Get­ting that power would re­quire a statute change, which is not forth­com­ing. In­stead, the safety cen­ter will need to at­tract pri­vate stake­hold­ers through in­cen­tives.

But statu­tory change might be nec­es­sary for the cen­ter to even ex­ist. Be­fore the com­mit­tee be­gan de­lib­er­a­tions, House Repub­li­cans on the En­ergy & Com­merce Com­mit­tee sent a let­ter to the ONC ask­ing what statu­tory author­ity the agency had to con­vene such a cen­ter, or in­deed, to fund it. The agency had not re­sponded by dead­line.

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