ONC proposes 'nutrition label' for healthcare apps

ONC is proposing adding a "nutrition label" to healthcare apps to disclose their uses and performance, The Wall Street Journal reported.

But some health system and IT company executives say the warnings could be too onerous, adding costs to patients and stifling innovation, according to the Dec. 2 story.

"The idea of the food label is reasonable," Scott Arnold, chief digital and innovation officer at Tampa (Fla.) General Hospital, told the news outlet. "I just think that if it goes too far, it's going to create more burden or more tax on the providers, the clinicians and the caregivers. And that's going to take us the wrong way." 

But advocates for the proposal say it would help avoid the errors of some previous health tech platforms, which have been laden with errors or perpetuated health inequities, the Journal reported.

"It's transparency to the user of the system," Micky Tripathi, PhD, national coordinator for health IT at ONC, told the newspaper. "Right now, there's a resistance to some of these tools because of the black box nature of them."

The disclosures, which would include how any healthcare artificial intelligence is trained and tested, would be optional. "We do believe that blank fields would be very informative," Dr. Tripathi told the Journal.

Some companies are worried about their proprietary algorithms being disclosed publicly, according to the story. "Our risk-related information contains intellectual property that could be reverse-engineered and copied by others," Epic told ONC in a comment letter.

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