Commercial labs want out from under certain data exchange restrictions imposed by federal and state privacy and medical and laboratory licensing laws, which they see as unfairly singling them out and impeding their large-scale data sharing arrangements with other healthcare organizations.
Key questions before a federal advisory panel on Oct. 20 were: whether the federal government could or should do anything—short of Congress rewriting the pertinent laws—to satisfy the labs, and whether current federal administrative rules could or should be changed to facilitate the flow of lab test results into and out of electronic health-record systems, health information exchanges and health insurance company databases.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 created the Health Information Technology Policy Committee to advise the federal government on matters such as these. Members of the “information exchange” work group of that committee heard testimony on lab issues from 16 scheduled witnesses and another half-dozen comments from the floor during a five-hour public hearing on Oct. 20.
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