KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Blumenthal Defends New Health IT Rules To Utah Leaders

David Blumenthal, the national coordinator for health information technology for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "defended the administration's new plans against critics who say the watered-down rules miss an opportunity to lower costs and improve patient care," The Salt Lake Tribune reports.

"The recently released rules dictate what qualifies as 'meaningful use' of electronic medical records, the standard providers must adopt to access the billions in grants available to help them go paperless. The standards seek to strike a balance between encouraging the change without expecting too much from health providers," Blumenthal told Utah health officials. There is little agreement in Utah, however, about what that balance should be. "Republican state legislators and John T. Nielsen, health adviser to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, urged Blumenthal to give states flexibility to innovate their own health reform solutions. Meanwhile, software developers are pleading for more standards to ensure that the e-health systems they create can talk to one another, Blumenthal said" (Stewart, 7/29).

Deseret News: "Regarding the security of sensitive individual medical information, Blumenthal said every measure will be taken to guarantee the confidentiality of everyone's private information. 'We're working with a whole bunch of different programs to make sure that the security of health information in electronic form is strong and continually improves,' he said. 'We're working with the president's cyber security coordinator to make sure that the most advanced security techniques … are brought to bear.' [Executive director of the Utah Department of Health and state HIT coordinator] Dr. David Sundwall said patients will eventually have the final say about how much of their private medical information is exchanged between providers. He also said that Utah will be the primary regulator of HIT for residents within its borders, while taking some cues from the federal government" (Lee, 7/29).

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