A call for federal officials to aggressively push accelerated adoption of electronic health-record systems could have unintended consequences and large costs for the nation's hospitals, according to a letter (PDF) sent this week from the Federation of American Hospitals to Dr. David Blumenthal, national coordinator for health information technology.
FAH cautions on aggressive EHR push
The accelerated health IT push, urged by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in a 108-page report issued in December, would represent a major shift in policy that "has the potential to set the nation's healthcare system back," according to the FAH letter.
The presidential advisory panel also urged the government to play an even more prominent role in ensuring that those systems use a common computer language for information-sharing and for meeting patient-selected privacy specifications.
Specific concerns for FAH included the panel's recommendation that the federal government select a digital common language similar to the structure commonly used on the Internet and then use federal influence to encourage this language's uniform adoption and use for moving patient data among healthcare providers, researchers and public-health communities.
"In our view, we see the PCAST report as setting a broader vision rather than delving into the specifics of choosing a standard, which is often a process fraught with politics," according to the FAH letter.
Instead, the hospital group urged that the federal Health IT Standards Committee continue with plans to recommend any one standard over another.
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