Tags: Healthcare Reform | health | information | technology | republicans

GOP Looks to Back Surging 'Health IT' Industry

By    |   Friday, 02 Jan 2015 06:17 PM

Look for the phrase "health IT," meaning health information technology, to pop up in the news repeatedly in the coming year as legislation and the financial dreams of health IT lobbyists promise to drive the issue to the forefront of the political arena.

The Republican Party is intent on allowing the health IT industry to flourish, and several bipartisan bills are winding their way through Congress, all aimed at controlling how the Food and Drug Administration will regulate the various facets of the exploding health IT industry, Politico reports.

"GOP lawmakers, as well as many of their Democratic co-religionaries, agree the FDA needs to keep its hands off health IT to allow innovation to flourish," Politico's  David Pittman writes.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., has put forward the SOFTWARE Act, while Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Michael Bennett, D-Colo., are backing their MEDTECH Act, both aimed at controlling the way the FDA oversees health IT.

Telemedicine, allowing physicians to treat patients long-distance, is also sure to end up as part of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s 21st Century Cures bill, as two separate pieces of legislation, the Telehealth Enhancement Act to waive Medicare's restrictions on home health services and the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act to expand telemedicine coverage are vying for inclusion, Politico notes.

License reciprocity is the key to the TELEMED Act sponsored by Reps. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and Frank Pallone, D-N.J., which would allow doctors in any state to treat Medicare patients in any other state through telemedicine under a single state's medical license.

Also under consideration are new regulations encouraging healthcare providers to share medical information. Health IT Now Executive Director Joel White told Politico that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has "told us repeatedly they don’t have the tools or the funding to be able to enforce it adequately. We think that’s wrong."

However Congress turns, health IT is a huge and growing business. Startup Health reports that in 2014, $6.5 billion was invested in "digital health," a 125 percent increase over 2013.

Teresa Wang of Rock Health told Health Data Management, "Telemedicine and digital therapies are redefining what is considered care and how it gets delivered. By leveraging technologies, both healthcare professionals and care treatments can be more widely distributed and accessible to those in need."

"Moreover, as healthcare reform continues to change the reimbursement environment, payer administration tools will become key to helping stakeholders navigate the healthcare system."

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Look for the phrase "health IT," meaning health information technology, to pop up in the news repeatedly in the coming year as legislation and the financial dreams of health IT lobbyists promise to drive the issue to the forefront of the political arena.
health, information, technology, republicans
410
2015-17-02
Friday, 02 Jan 2015 06:17 PM
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