The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s recently released discussion draft for its so-called “21st Century Cures” initiative is receiving strong support from industry groups.

“The ideas outlined in this draft represent a year of listening and working together to develop a product that we believe will truly help patients and bring our healthcare innovation infrastructure into the 21st century,” according to a bipartisan statement from the leaders of the committee.

Among other provisions, the discussion draft includes legislative language for:

*Breaking down barriers to increased collaboration and data sharing among patients, researchers, providers, and innovators;

*Aiding development of personalized and precision medicines so the right patient can receive the right treatment at the right time;

*Providing for continued work in the telehealth space;

*Advancing a truly interoperable healthcare system;

*And, providing clarity for developers of software products used in health management and medical care.

Also See: ‘21st Century Cures’ Bill Seeks Regulatory Certainty for Health IT

“This draft bill clarifies how innovative new health IT products will be regulated into the future,” said Joel White, executive director of the Health IT Now Coalition. “The SOFTWARE Section of the bill is greatly simplified and more clearly delineates the lines between FDA regulations. We believe this will spur development of new and innovative health IT products that will improve the treatments patients get while enhancing opportunities for them to engage in their care.”

The coalition is glad the committee is still working on fleshing out details on interoperability and telemedicine. “These issues are critically important,” White said. “The fact that interoperability and telemedicine were kept in the draft legislation confirms the committee’s desire to find solutions for both issues, especially if given the time and resources to tackle the opportunity.”

Likewise, the Bipartisan Policy Center commended the House Energy and Commerce Committee for their “tireless efforts on developing and releasing the bipartisan 21st Century Cures draft legislation” on these important issues which “afford tremendous opportunity for providing hope for patients and accelerated progress on research, new medicines and treatments.”

Leslie Krigstein, interim vice president of public policy at the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, voiced his organization’s support for the committee’s bipartisan actions to strengthen America’s healthcare system to meet 21st century needs. “Health information technology and electronic health records have the potential to transform care and usher in a new era in healthcare,” said Krigstein. “We hope that the committee takes seriously the need to prioritize action items that can build on progress made to date, including consistent patient identification, clear standards and a testing environment that enhances the value of ONC’s certification program.”

At the same time, Krigstein asked lawmakers to be “cognizant” of the complexities of legislating interoperability. “CHIME believes interoperability relative to safe, high quality patient care should remain the focus of any policy changes,” she said. “CHIME’s top priority remains a national approach to patient identification, an essential component to fostering interoperability and eradicating our industry’s technical barriers.”

While the discussion draft is the product of months of bipartisan negotiations, the committee is continuing to finalize the 21st Century Cures legislation. The draft text is available here.

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