Industry embraces health IT bill

A new health information technology bill has quickly won support from the IT industry.

The measure, which aims to accelerate the adoption of e-health records that can be seen across systems, was one of several technology-related bills introduced this week in the House. The Senate was in recess.

The legislation, H.R. 3800, would establish a national coordinator within the Health and Human Services Department and create a public-private advisory body to ensure interoperability standards in health IT.

"We live in the information age, but health care, one of the most information-intensive segments of our economy, remains mired in a pen-and-paper past," said bill sponsor Anna Eshoo, D-Calif. "This is a disservice to patients and to our healthcare system."

Sun Microsystems's Chris Hankin said in a statement that Eshoo's bill "leverages the advanced technology and innovation to improve the quality and delivery of health care. Put simply, this bill will both help save and improve lives while it also helps make health care more affordable."

Under the bill, new grants would be available for state and local governments, and incentives would be provided for utilizing high-speed Internet services to deliver health IT to underserved areas. The measure also would create a certification process for e-health products and guarantee patients the right to inspect and obtain copies of their records.

Rhett Dawson, president of the Information Technology Industry Council, applauded the legislation in a letter to Eshoo. He urged members of Congress to "pass meaningful legislation that will spur the healthcare community to harness the power of this technology and invest in the future."

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