The top Democrat in the House said that electronic medical records are key to improving the quality of care individuals receive and said that privacy and security are central to widespread adoption.
In a wide-ranging health policy speech delivered in Washington, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that funding for biomedical research, the elimination of disparities in healthcare, greater access to personalized care and improved mental health services are all elements Congress would address in the coming session. But, she added, none of those components would work unless bound by a "common record" that's built on a bedrock of information technology.
"Electronic medical records, starting at birth, (would) ensure quality, help to reduce errors, lower cost and improve healthcare through the coordination of personalized care," Pelosi told about 900 health advocates who attended Families USA's annual Health Action conference. "Essential to this, though, is protecting confidentiality and privacy. If we have the technology or if we don't, we must task for the technology to make that possible."
Though she didn't offer specifics, Congressional leaders have said in recent weeks that health IT would be a priority in this year's session. How that actually plays out, however, is still uncertain.
Federal lawmakers and White House officials have each said that they favor provisions that would require the use of electronic prescribing for starters, which could ultimately be attached to broader legislation that includes a host of Medicare reforms. And a new coalition of influential House Democrats said that they would push harder this year for broader health IT legislation as well.
In her speech, Pelosi described the "millions of health providers in homes and in schools" that would be on the frontlines of health reform. Having a system of EMRs, she said, would ensure that "everyone is in the loop.
"Healthcare must be personalized to the individual," she said. "The science and technology are there to make that possible. But right now, too many Americans are being treated with a one-size-fits-all approach to medicine." Matthew DoBias / HITS staff writer
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