Health IT Issues Highlighted on Capitol Hill

On Tuesday, the House Veterans Affairs Committee held a legislative hearing on a number of bills, including H.R. 2123, the Veterans E-Health and Telemedicine Support Act of 2017. This bill would improve the ability of healthcare professionals to treat veterans through the use of telemedicine by addressing state licensure issues. At the hearing, both witnesses and Members of Congress praised the VA’s use of telehealth, touting the many benefits that telehealth provides to veterans. However, they also acknowledged that current limitations and questions around the practice of telehealth across state lines is problematic for healthcare professionals within the VA, and hoped that the bill would address these concerns. At the hearing, they also touched upon the VA’s transition from VistA to a Cerner EHR system in order to become more interoperable with the Department of Defense. Secretary David Shulkin stated that it could take 18 months for its first site to go live with the new EHR system, and around seven to eight years to fully transition.

Also on Tuesday, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection and the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development held a joint hearing entitled “Public-Private Solutions to Educating a Cyber Workforce.” The hearing featured witnesses from academia, the private industry and the nonprofit sector and focused on ways the government and private sector can work together to address the growing demand for cybersecurity professionals across all sectors of the economy.  During the hearing, both Members of Congress and witnesses highlighted that our education system is not producing the number of qualified cybersecurity professionals to meet ever growing demand. Addressing the shortage of qualified cybersecurity professionals is a key priority for HIMSS and several recommendations for addressing the shortage can be found in HIMSS Cybersecurity Call to Action.

On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications & Technology held a hearing on Oversight of the Federal Communications Commission, featuring all five FCC Commissioners as witnesses. During the hearing, commissioners and Members of Congress expressed support for rural broadband deployment, telehealth and remote patient monitoring. Rural broadband deployment is a key priority for HIMSS and is addressed in HIMSS 2017 Infrastructure Congressional Ask.