Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said that “electronic health records are a critical piece to the future of medical innovation” during the first oversight hearing on the 21st Century Cures Act. Today, the committee held the first oversight hearing on the 21st Century Cures Act, which became law in December 2016 and was called “the most important legislation” of the year by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“Last December, we passed the 21st Century Cures Act, legislation we hope will help virtually every American family by taking advantage of breathtaking advances in biomedical research,” Alexander said. “As we worked on Cures, we learned that in order for most areas of the bill to succeed, it was essential that electronic health records systems work properly.”
“For example, the precision medicine initiative aims to assemble one million genomes to help doctors tailor treatment to patients. But most of that information the head of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, is trying to collect, will flow through electronic health records. And the more we looked into these systems, the more we realized our nation’s system of electronic health care records was in a ditch. The goal of the health IT provisions in Cures was to make it easier for patients to access their health records and for doctors and hospitals to get the information they need to treat patients,” added Alexander. “The law set clear deadlines for the administration to meet and I would like to hear how implementation of these provisions is going. For example, are doctors spending less time on administrative tasks and more time with patients?”
The committee will have additional implementation hearings in December on the sections dealing with the research, development, and approval of innovative treatments, cures, and medical devices, and on the reforms to mental health programs.