Support grows for health information technology

Members of Congress began to roll out bi-partisan legislation.

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt recently announced his support for public and private investment in information technology that can reduce medical errors, lower costs and improve care. The occasion was the Business Roundtable's CEO Health Care Summit, where Leavitt and Treasury Secretary John Snow discussed how rising healthcare costs are weakening the global competitiveness of U.S. companies.

At the same time, members of Congress began to roll out bi-partisan legislation to accelerate HIT development. Most notably, Sen. Hilary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) announced support for House legislation offering grants to fund regional health information organizations that facilitate transfer of patient information among healthcare providers. Clinton says she plans to introduce legislation to build on this measure.

PUSH FROM MEDICARE Meanwhile, CMS is working hard to establish an electronic prescribing system before a 2009 implementation deadline. The agency has published a proposed rule for establishing basic e-prescribing standards, which it hopes to finalize by next year. CMS also plans to launch several e-prescribing pilot projects in January 2006 in order to implement a follow-on set of higher-level clinical standards.