Health IT

Feds propose streamlined strategy for health IT

health data

The federal government wants to carve out some areas of health IT that don't require oversight by the Food and Drug Administration, while making sure medical devices and other areas that directly affect patient health and safety remain subject to regulation.

A new report from the FDA, the Federal Communications Commission and the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT (ONC) proposes a "risk based" approach to health IT that gives developers latitude to build computer applications for health records and capturing patient data without the long lead times and trials that accompany FDA approval. Under the proposed system, the FDA would focus on device functionality, including computer-aided detection systems and alarms that alert caregivers to changes in a patient's condition.

The proposed approach is part of an overall strategy to help provide more regulatory clarity to the growing medical IT industry and to encourage firms to focus on standard-setting, interoperability and best practices in the development of health IT to improve data portability and the more efficient delivery of care.

In particular, the report recommends that industry stakeholders establish some method of testing, validating and certifying the interoperability of health care IT systems and devices. Additionally, the government wants to see some performance verification to rate the quality and safety of health IT products. This function could be split among private sector and government bodies, depending on whether an assessment is "critical to assuring the safety and health of consumers," per the report.

Finally, the agencies advocate the creation of a Health IT Safety Center, a new public-private entity that would serve as a clearinghouse for best practices, governance, and information sharing. While the report isn't binding, the agencies are seeking more input from industry on privacy and security issues arising from creating a new quasi-regulatory body.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Shutterstock image: looking for code.

    How DOD embraced bug bounties -- and how your agency can, too

    Hack the Pentagon proved to Defense Department officials that outside hackers can be assets, not adversaries.

  • Shutterstock image: cyber defense.

    Why PPD-41 is evolutionary, not revolutionary

    Government cybersecurity officials say the presidential policy directive codifies cyber incident response protocols but doesn't radically change what's been in practice in recent years.

  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

Reader comments

Tue, Apr 8, 2014

The IT companies will make billions on this requirement!

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group