Re:Health IT Bill--Improving Patient Privacy and Doctor Access

The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee on Thursday considered a bill (HR 4157) that would promote the use of health care information technology and establish national standards on privacy and implementation of electronic health records. I am a strong supporter of the movement toward electronic health records. I believe this will help with patient care by ensuring that doctors have quick access to complete and accurate patient info. For example, it will be less likely that double tests will be ordered or for a patient to have a problem filling a prescription because of bad handwriting. The legislation, which I co-sponsored, would also establish a committee to make recommendations on national standards for medical data storage and develop a permanent structure to govern national interoperability standards. Interoperability of data storage is essential because electronic records will be ineffective if different systems are used that can not share information or have different privacy standards. The bill also would clarify that current medical privacy laws apply to data stored or transmitted electronically and would require the HHS secretary to recommend to Congress a privacy standard to reconcile differences in federal and state laws. I recognize the need to protect this extremely sensitive information.