Health Information Management

New legislation facilitates nationwide adoption of EHRs

HIM-HIPAA Insider, May 5, 2009

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Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-WV) has introduced legislation—the Health Information Technology Public Utility Act of 2009—that would facilitate nationwide adoption of EHRs, particularly among small, rural providers, according to an April 23 press release.

Specifically, the Act would:

  • Create a new federal Public Utility Board within the ONC for health information technology (HIT) to direct and oversee formation of this HIT Public Utility Model, its implementation, and its ongoing operation
  • Implement and administer a new 21st Century HIT Grant program for safety-net providers to cover the full cost of open source (i.e., a computer program with unrestricted source code that does not limit the use or distribution by any organization or user) software implementation and maintenance for up to five years, with the possibility of renewal for up to five years if required benchmarks are met 
  • Facilitate ongoing communication with open source user groups to incorporate improvements and innovations from them into the core programs
  • Ensure interoperability between these programs, including as innovations are incorporated, and develop mechanisms to integrate open source software with Medicaid and CHIP billing
  • Create a child-specific EHR to be used in Medicaid, CHIP, and other federal children’s health programs
  • Develop and integrate quality and performance measurement into open source software modules

"Open source software is a cost-effective, proven way to advance health information technology—particularly among small, rural providers. This legislation does not replace commercial software; instead, it complements the private industry in this field—by making health information technology a realistic option for all providers," Rockefeller said in the press release.

Click here to view the press release.

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