Clinton proposes health IT bill

The Democratic senator calls for better data sharing, real-time access to patient information and lower costs.

Sen. Hillary Clinton's Senate Web site

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) today unveiled a proposal to use information technology to modernize the health care system, improving data sharing and real-time access to information, as well as lowering costs.

"In the 1990s, many industries transformed through the use of information technology," Clinton said in a prepared statement. "Health care has not done so but can and should. Information, in the hands of the right people, at the right time, drives quality and value."

Clinton spoke at Cornell University's medical center in New York City. She plans to introduce a bill that would:

* Standardize performance measures for comparing health care facilities nationwide as well as urge a move to electronic health records.

* Establish voluntary interoperability standards so different hospital systems can communicate with one another, exchange electronic health records and reduce paperwork.

* Provide patients with real-time access to their health records, or health care providers with the latest research, clinical guidelines, reminders and other data through hand-held computers and other devices.

* Increase funding for better clinical research, including more comparative head-to-head trials of drugs and other therapies.

* Fund further studies and demonstrations to identify Medicare payment structures that reward performance.

Several organizations have proposed the use of IT to improve health care. For example, the Markle Foundation in recent years formed a public/private collaboration to create common data standards for interoperability, secure private transmission of medical information and a framework of what consumers will need and expect from an interconnected health information system. Such a system, Markle officials said, could mean better data security, fewer errors, real-time exchange of critical data and lower costs.

Patient care is shortchanged because only 20 percent of the care provided is supported by scientific evidence, Clinton said. Health care workers spend more time on paperwork than care and that leads to increased costs, she said. Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services reported that such costs represent 15 percent of the nation's gross domestic product -- a number that will increase, she said.

A Clinton spokeswoman said more details of the proposal might be released by the end of the week.

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