HHS Aims To Streamline Regulations on Patient Data Access, Telehealth

TOPIC ALERT:

HHS has released a progress report on its efforts to lessen regulatory burdens by making adjustments to health IT-related requirements and other regulations, AHA News reports (AHA News, 2/1).

Background

Last year, President Obama issued an executive order calling for federal agencies to review their regulations to improve efficiency.

Along with other federal agencies, HHS finalized its regulatory reform plan in August 2011 (iHealthBeat, 9/9/11).

Progress Report Details

The progress report states that HHS is making "significant progress" toward implementing its regulatory reform plan.

Some of the agency's regulatory changes are related to health IT. For example, one proposed rule would provide patients with easier access to their clinical laboratory results.

Another proposed rule would revise the federal health reform law's definition of a Medicaid home health service to require to physicians to document all face-to-face encounters, including those conducted via telehealth technology. According to HHS, the change would reduce health care costs by $1.2 billion by 2019.

In addition, a new final rule eases the process for the credentialing and privileging of physicians who provide telehealth services. HHS estimates that the rule will help hospitals reduce spending by $13.6 million annually.

HHS also noted that FDA is conducting a review to determine whether new technologies would be more effective at reducing medication errors than the agency's existing requirement that drug labels include bar codes (Shaw, FierceHealthIT, 2/2).


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