Several physician informaticists will either play key roles or provide physician-specific testimony this week before a subcommittee of the National Committee for Vital Health Statistics, which began its first public hearings today on developing national standards for e-prescribing.
The NCVHS, a federally funded advisory panel to the Secretary of HHS, was tasked by the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 to make recommendations to the secretary by June 2005. The NSVHS recommendations are to be weighed by the secretary, who is instructed by the law to adopt standards by Sept. 1 of that year.
The testimony will run through Thursday.
The subcommittee on standards and security is chaired by Simon Cohen, M.D. national director for health information policy, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, Oakland, Calif.
Physicians scheduled to testify include:
- Douglas Bell, M.D., a co-principal investigator on a Rand Corp. study funded by Pfizer on e-prescribing, who will present his findings.
- David Bates, M.D., medical director of clinical and quality analysis for Partners HealthCare System, Boston, and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, who will discuss patient safety and e-prescribing. Bates' research was a key component in the headline-grabbing Institute of Medicine report, To Err is Human, in which the IOM concluded that between 44,000 and 98,000 Americans die each year from preventable medical errors.
- John Faughnan, M.D., a consultant with McKesson Provider Technologies, and Peter Kaufman, M.D., DrFirst, who will speak to the vendor perspective of e-prescribing.
- Patricia Hale, M.D., from the American College of Physicians, and David Kibbe, M.D., from the American Academy of Family Physicians, who will testify regarding e-prescribing from a physician point of view.
Both standards leave out elements physicians should have at the point of care, he said.
"It's a narrow technical issue but an important one," he said. "If we (physicians) don't have all the information that we need, it will lead to problems."
The government clearly can--and is, through the NCVHS process under way--play an important role in getting private-sector healthcare vendors and providers to accept a common set of communications standards for e-prescribing, Kibbe said.
"They can recommend and run demonstration projects for (standards) testing," he said. "They need to pay attention to everyone, particularly the small and medium-sized doctors' practices, to make sure it doesn't cost the physicians money."
Kibbe said the prescribing services should be free to physicians.