Committee clears health IT bill for the House

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The House Science and Technology Committee has passed health information technology (IT) legislation, H.R. 2406, authored by Representative Bart Gordon, D-Tenn.

The bill authorizes the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to create guidelines for integrating IT into an interoperable health IT system to maintain patient healthcare records in the United States.

“In a world of electronic information these issues can only be resolved through the development of technical standards. These standards currently do not exist in any comprehensive form,” Gordon said. “To me, NIST is the obvious federal agency to promote the development of these standards. NIST already has a proven track record in this type of work.”

An integrated IT healthcare system could potentially benefit thousands of people a year who suffer due to medical errors, improper diagnoses, or being prescribed incorrect medications due to lack of a comprehensive family medical history or poorly maintained records, according to Gordon.

“There is a general consensus that the result of fully utilized information technology would be lower cost and improved patient care. Regardless of its acknowledged benefits, the use of IT by the healthcare community remains low and lags far behind other segments of our economy such as financial services, banking and manufacturing,” added Gordon. “This bill aims to remedy that problem.”

The committee’s approval sends the bill to the House of Representatives for consideration.