Groups push for health IT privacy safeguards

Grant Gross provides more on reactions to the stimulus bill provisions involving IT and privacy:

U.S. lawmakers need to make sure privacy safeguards are in place before pushing electronic health records (EHR) on the public, senators and witnesses said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today.

Health IT improvements are needed to improve the quality and efficiency of health care in the U.S., but patients might be wary of electronic health records without strong privacy safeguards built in, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said.

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An $825 billion economic stimulus package, called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, includes $20 billion targeted toward health IT efforts. The bill, which could come before the full House for a vote this week, establishes an Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, which will be responsible for driving health IT standards.

The bill would also create a national health IT research center and a series of health IT extension centers to help health care providers and patients adopt EHRs. It would also fund grant programs to help health care providers adopt health care technologies and EHRs.

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