Help Shape the Future of Health IT

By: Bakul Patel, MS, MBA

Calling all movers and shakers in health care information technology!

We’re on a mission to help pave the way for innovative advances in safe and effective health information technology (HIT).

Who are “we”?

Under recent legislation, Congress charged FDA—in consultation with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Federal Communications Commission—to develop a report with a strategy and recommendations relating to a risk-based regulatory framework for HIT that would promote innovation, protect patient safety, and avoid regulatory duplication.

Congress also provided that the agency could assemble a working group that is geographically diverse and consists of experts and interested persons from all stakeholders in the HIT community to help develop the required strategy and recommendations. We put out a call for nominations with a deadline of March 8 on the ONC’s website, so the deadline is fast approaching.

Please take a look at the list of areas of expertise we’re seeking for the working group’s membership.  

The response so far has been gratifying, but our mission is large and if you haven’t already submitted a nomination—for yourself or someone you admire in your field—we urge you to do so now.  We’ll be looking in particular for people who represent a large segment of our stakeholder community.

I’m a technology guy, so I get fired up when it comes to thinking about the possibilities in this rapidly evolving field. But if your eyes glaze over when you hear the phrase “health information technology,” here’s why you should be interested, too:

We live in exciting times. Electronic health records, patient-to-doctor Skyping, smart phones, efficient workflow systems, and ingenious mobile apps provide us with vast reservoirs of health-related information—literally at our fingertips—in seconds.

For example, the National Institutes of Health’s LactMed app gives nursing mothers information about the effects of medicines on breast milk and nursing infants, and there are other apps aimed at helping health care providers improve and facilitate patient care.

But ready access also offers safety challenges. How can we best protect patient privacy? How do we make sure the information is accurate? How can we foster efficiency and curtail costs in the way this information is disseminated in, say, the interpretation and transmittal of radiological images from a medical imaging center to an electronic tablet in a pediatrician’s office to a hospital overseas?

Our working group will be tackling these issues and a host of others. And we want the group to be as varied, wide-reaching, and forward-thinking as possible.

Whether you’re a venture capitalist looking to fund innovative projects; a health care professional who works in a hospital or in private practice; an expert in another area of information technology; or a consumer who wants to ensure the privacy of your own data, we seek and value your participation.

Please, put your name in the hat. It’s a rare opportunity to help shape the future of how health care is provided for generations to come.

Bakul Patel, MS, MBA, is a Policy Advisor in the Office of the Center Director in FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health

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