A proposal to address and oversee safety concerns related to health information technology is expected to face federal review this week. An advisory committee has been meeting over the past month to formulate recommendations for a proposed Health IT Safety Center. It will present recommendations July 8 to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology's Policy Committee.
Federal committee to propose Health IT Safety Center
The safety center is intended to address safety problems arising from health IT products, and is centered around what committee chairman Dr. David Bates terms “the three Es”: engagement of developers, providers and other stakeholders; gathering evidence, whether directly from vendors and providers, or indirectly through patient-safety organizations; and education of providers and vendors.
The safety center will be a private-public partnership, with some funding from the ONC budget. A key question throughout the advisory committee's discussions has been the ONC's relationship with the private sector—the center will not likely have investigative or subpoena power. Getting that power would require a statute change, which is not forthcoming. Instead, the safety center will need to attract private stakeholders through incentives.
But statutory change might be necessary for the center to even exist. Before the committee began deliberations, House Republicans on the Energy & Commerce Committee sent a letter to the ONC asking what statutory authority the agency had to convene such a center, or indeed, to fund it. The agency had not responded by deadline.
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