Senators propose bill to rate health IT systems

Newly introduced legislation seeks to create a rating system for health IT products to promote transparency around them and ensure they are functioning as promised.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), MD, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), introduced the bill earlier this week. They named the legislation the "Transparent Ratings on Usability and Security to Transform Information Technology Act of 2015," or TRUST IT Act.

By increasing transparency and creating a rating system, the senators hope the bill will enable consumers to compare different products.

"Right now, after a health IT product is certified for use, there's no way to ensure that it continues to deliver as promised for doctors and patients, and no way to easily compare one product to another," said Sen. Whitehouse. "This bill will establish important safeguards to prevent systems from underperforming and will grade them on their performance — changes that will improve market competition and drive innovation."

The rating system would be a three-star system, with one star indicating an authorized certification body deemed the technology less than satisfactory, two stars indicating the technology is satisfactory and three stars indicating the technology is excellent. Such a rating system would be developed with stakeholder input and eventually published on the ONC's website.

The TRUST IT Act also seeks to do the following:

  • Authorize the ONC to make publicly available demonstrations and information showing how certain technology meets certification requirements
  • Require the certification program to ensure health IT products meet security requirements and achieve interoperability as required by reporting criteria developed for the Health IT Rating Program
  • Require IT vendors to prove they do not engage in information blocking as a condition of certification
  • Authorize HHS' Inspector General to investigate claims of information blocking and deliver monetary penalties for any entities who have committed information blocking.

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