HIMSS backs national healthcare IT legislation

May 11, 2005

The federal government has put a national health information network on its agenda, and the board of directors of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) has endorsed the 21st Century Health Information Act.

The federal government has put a national health information network on its agenda, and the board of directors of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) has endorsed the 21st Century Health Information Act.

Representatives Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI), cosponsors of the legislation, introduced the bill at a May 11 news conference in Washington, DC.

"HIMSS endorses this legislation because it represents a positive step forward in the national agenda to improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of patient care using information technology, standards, and interoperability," said H. Stephen Lieber, HIMSS president and CEO.

Lieber represented HIMSS at the news conference.

The 21st Century Health Information Act envisions state- or community-based solutions to establishing interoperable electronic health records throughout the country. The legislation charges regional health information organizations with convening healthcare stakeholders (providers, patients, payers, and employers) to develop health information networks, mechanisms for financing physician IT implementation, and plans to use the new networks to improve patient safety, healthcare quality, and efficiency.

According to information released from the 21st Century Healthcare Caucus, which Reps. Murphy and Kennedy cochair, the legislation calls for specific steps that will help the country move toward the nationwide adoption of electronic health record systems:

  • creating health information networks that allow seamless transfer of health data while guaranteeing patient privacy and security

  • putting electronic medical records and e-prescribing in every doctor's hands

  • ensuring that systems are developed to use the new information capabilities to improve outcomes and decrease costs

"The HIMSS board applauds the efforts of Rep. Murphy and Rep. Kennedy in realizing and acting on the need for community-based solutions to establish a national health information network," said Pamela R. Wirth, chair of the HIMSS board and vice president of Siemens Medical Systems, Soarian Clinicals. "The 21st Century Health Information Act provides an integrated approach to bring interoperability in healthcare to reality."

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