Sens. Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) have introduced a bill to “strengthen accountability and improve transparency in health information technology systems.”

According to its sponsors, the Transparent Ratings on Usability and Security to Transform Information Technology (TRUST IT) Act of 2015 would make health IT systems accountable for their performance in three key areas: security, usability, and interoperability. Specifically, the bill seeks to establish a health IT rating system—to be published on the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT’s website—to enable consumers to compare certified health IT products on those three criteria. 

The bill also establishes a process for the collection and verification of confidential feedback from health care providers, patients, and other users on the usability, security, and interoperability of products. It requires health IT vendors to report on the performance of their health IT products every two years and authorizes the assessment of fines—and in some cases decertification of products—for failing to report

Other provisions of the TRUST IT Act include:

  • Authorizing ONC to make publicly available information, such as summaries, screen shots, or video demonstrations, showing how certified HIT meets certification requirements;
  • Requiring the certification program to establish that HIT products meet applicable security requirements, incorporate user-centered design, and achieve interoperability, consistent with the reporting criteria developed for the rating program;
  • Requiring HIT vendors to attest they do not engage in certain information blocking activities, including nondisclosure clauses in their contracts, as a condition of certification and maintenance of certification;
  • Authorizing the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services to investigate claims of information blocking and assess civil monetary penalties on any person or entity determined to have committed information blocking.

 

“This bill implements better coordination in the electronic health records system,” said Cassidy. “Doctors will be able to better care for their patients and in turn, deliver on the promise that their information is being used for their benefit and not for the benefit of others.”

“Right now, after a health IT product is certified for use, there’s no way to ensure that it continues to deliver as promised for doctors and patients, and no way to easily compare one product to another,” added Whitehouse. “This bill will establish important safeguards to prevent systems from underperforming and will grade them on their performance – changes that will improve market competition and drive innovation.”

Also See: Providers, Vendors Blamed for Information Blocking in Senate Hearing

Health IT Now, a coalition of industry stakeholders, says it supports the legislation’s efforts to promote interoperability through a more rigorous certification program that takes into account usability and performance.

“Time and again data show that if consumers are given accurate information they make better decisions,” the organization said in a written statement. “HITN is cautiously optimistic that a new rating system will help hospitals, doctors, and other healthcare providers better choose systems that will help deliver more effective, lower-cost care to patients.”

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