Mark Leavitt, chairman of the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology, called on members of Congress on Wednesday to consider legislation that would reduce the financial risk physicians face when they purchase electronic medical records and e-prescribing tools and that also would offer financial incentives as a way to help speed widespread health IT adoption.
In comments made before a House subcommittee, Leavitt said the federal government should also ensure that all health IT systems are interoperable and equipped with stringent privacy protections that safeguard confidential patient information.
CCHIT, which has certified almost 60 office-based EHR products so far, has taken the lead role in ensuring that vendors' products conform to certain standards and codes. Leavitt told members of the Regulations, Healthcare and Trade Subcommittee of the Small Business Committee that any proposed legislation should "build on this momentum and not disrupt it by sending confusing signals to the industry."
But Leavitt also warned that federal programs that promise bonus payments to doctors who report on certain approved quality measureswhile a "step in the right direction"would not be enough "to impact an office's IT buying decision.
"In my experience, the most effective policy would be to restructure physician payments to include an incentivefirst for IT adoption and subsequently for using that IT to measure and improve quality," Leavitt said.
Leavitt, who testified along with four other physiciansmostly from small practicesearned plaudits when he said that CCHIT would take into account specialty, setting and population-specific certification requirements under its seal-of-approval process.