Murray Pushes "Health IT" Bill to Save Lives, Time and Money

Jul 20 2005

Bipartisan Proposal Passes Committee Today;
Plan Would Shift Medical Records from Paper to Electronic Format & Give Patients Better Access to Their Medical Records

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) helped move forward an innovative bill that would expand the use of information technology (IT) in healthcare. The bipartisan proposal would help patients by reducing medical errors, increasing efficiency, improving quality and giving doctors easier access to a patient's medical records. The bill would encourage medical providers to move patients' records from paper-based files to a secure, electronic format.

Murray worked with Chairman Enzi, Ranking Member Kennedy, and Senators Frist and Clinton to draft the proposal. Today, with Murray's vote, it passed the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

"In Washington state, we know how technology can revolutionize businesses and communities. It is far past time that we use that same innovation to transform our healthcare system," Senator Murray said. "By expanding information technology everywhere from Seattle to Wenatchee, we will see fewer medical errors, increased efficiency, and healthier patients."

Senator Murray has been a long time supporter of integrating IT into the healthcare system. She has partnered with Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle and the Inland Northwest Health Services in Spokane to expand access to care in remote communities.

The "Wired for Healthcare Quality Act" (S.1418) will help move America's health care system to an electronic records system. It would create national standards to ensure that patient records are available wherever they access care. These standards would also keep medical records private and secure. Electronic records will help reduce medical errors, improve quality, reduce waste and duplication of services, and allow for the collection of data to standardize treatment.

The bill will also promote performance-based health care that rewards caregivers who offer efficient, quality service.

In drafting the bill, Murray worked to ensure that rural providers receive the technical and financial support to invest in health IT systems.

Murray also worked to ensure that patients have access to their own medical records. Better access will help patients become more informed consumers and more empowered to make decisions about their own healthcare.

The "Wired for Quality Healthcare Act" will:

  • protect the privacy and security of health information;

  • foster the widespread adoption of health information technology;

  • establish the public-private American Health Information Collaborative to identify uniform national data standards and implement policies for widespread adoption of health information technology;

  • establish health information network demonstration programs;

  • award grants to facilitate the purchase and enhance the utilization of qualified health information technology; and

  • award grants to states for the development of state loan programs to facilitate the widespread adoption of qualified health information technology.

Now that the bill has passed the HELP Committee, it will go the Senate floor for a vote. While a vote has not yet been scheduled, the bill has the backing of Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), who helps set the Senate's vote schedule.