February 9, 2016

Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Performance of Health IT Systems Passes Senate Committee

Sens. Whitehouse and Cassidy’s Reforms Would Establish New Rating System to Help Consumers Compare Products

Washington, DC – Bipartisan legislation to help consumers assess how well health information technology (IT) systems perform has cleared the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

Today, the Committee passed a health care information technology bill that includes key reforms from Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Bill Cassidy’s (R-LA) Transparent Ratings on Usability and Security to Transform Information Technology (TRUST IT) Act.  The TRUST IT Act provisions would help to ensure that health IT systems certified by the federal government are performing as promised in the field, and establish a rating system to enable consumers to compare different products based on that performance.

“Not all health IT products work well, and that has real consequences,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “A health IT rating system will give consumers a better sense of which products deserve their business and create an incentive for companies to innovate.  I’m glad the Committee has approved this legislation and I appreciate Senator Cassidy’s help in moving it forward.”

“The TRUST IT act was introduced and committee included it in the draft because we need reforms that empower physicians to provide better patient care—not burden physicians and damage the doctor-patient relationship.  The TRUST IT Act creates a rating system—developed by stakeholders—that measures outcomes of usability, interoperability and security.  This focus on outcomes will reduce the burden on physicians while maintaining transparency,” said Senator Cassidy.  “This bill helps create interoperability by stopping information blocking, and creating a business incentive through the rating program to ensure that all systems work together to seamlessly share information for patient care.”

The TRUST IT Act provisions focus on making health IT systems accountable for their performance in three key areas: security, usability, and interoperability.  The legislation would establish a health IT rating system—published online by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology—to enable consumers to compare certified health IT products on those three criteria.  The rating system would be developed in close consultation with doctors, hospitals, consumer advocates, and IT security experts, among other stakeholders.  The bill also establishes a process for health care providers, patients, and other health IT users to share feedback on how well health IT products perform.

Additionally, the TRUST IT Act will enhance the federal certification system for health IT products by:

  • Authorizing the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to make publicly available information showing how certified health information technology meets certification requirements;
  • Requiring that health IT developers attest they do not engage in certain information blocking activities as a condition of certification and maintenance of certification; and
  • Authorizes the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services to investigate claims of information blocking.

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Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921