Thank you, Chairman Baucus, for holding this hearing today on health information technology, or health IT.
The hearing that we held in the
As I mentioned last week, I have heard from many providers and vendors - both large and small - about some of the challenges in becoming "meaningful users," as defined by the
I am hopeful that leaders at ONC and CMS are paying attention to our hearing this morning, and that they will consider the thoughtful comments made by our witnesses.
All too often,
These are all the rights goals. So the question becomes: Are the incentives well placed and are they making a difference? And, if not, why not?
We know that, unless you provide people with compelling reasons to make changes, changes will not occur.
For example, there has to be a compelling reason for hospitals to want to share information among non-affiliated providers.
Likewise, there has to be a compelling reason for vendors to want to create technologies that work across various systems.
It would seem to me that those reasons do not currently exist. If they did, we might not struggle with achieving interoperability. This seems to be the elusive holy grail of health IT. Everyone is talking about it, and yet it always seems to be out of reach.
I am most interested in hearing the thoughts of today's witnesses about the timing of the various stages of Meaningful Use, and the requirements involved. Let me be clear, I think we need to hold people's feet to the fire so that we continue to make strides in delivering high quality care.
If that means making requirements more stringent, then let's have that conversation. However, as I said to our witnesses last week, we have to give organizations enough time to acquire certified technologies and appropriately train staff to use them.
Ignoring the question of whether providers have the ability to keep up will only hurt the cause. This transformation won't happen overnight. But, having the right timelines in place is nothing short of a necessity for success.
Providers cannot afford to waste resources on systems that quickly become out of date as CMS and ONC change requirements over time. And vendors should be afforded very clear instructions as to what is expected as part of a certified system.
Indeed, when we are talking about spending millions of dollars on health IT, certainty is a must. Mr. Chairman, thank you once again for holding this hearing and I look forward to hearing from our panel of witnesses.
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