Sunday, December 9, 2012

New Bill Introduced

On December 5th, Representative Mike Honda (D-CA) introduced the “Healthcare Innovation and Marketplace Technologies Act” (HIMTA) (H.R. 6626) to foster more innovation in the healthcare industry by developing marketplace incentives, offer challenge grants, and provide more workforce retraining.

First, the bill would establish an “Office of Wireless Health” at FDA that would coordinate with other governmental agencies and private industry to provide recommendations to the FDA Commissioner on developing and maintaining a consistent, reasonable, and predictable regulatory framework on wireless health issues.

The bill would also establish a mHealth developer support program at HHS to help mobile application developers build their devices in line with current privacy regulations. This program would provide a national hotline, an educational website, and a yearly report that would help translate the wide array of privacy guidelines into common English.

To foster greater interest in developing health IT, the bill mandates the creation of a prize program and small innovator challenge grants to incentivize risk-taking and attract outside investment. The “Disruptive Technologies Prize Program” would create a commission of private industry, patient safety/privacy advocates, medical professionals, and government officials that would recommend three major areas of health IT where there has not been enough innovation.

Then the commission would create a competitive prize program (similar to the X-Prize Foundation competition for private manned space flight) to attract private investment. In addition, the challenge grant program would provide grants to small innovators working in garages and home offices around the nation and develop the critical seed funding necessary to make their ideas a reality.

Since lack of capital is one of the biggest barriers to purchasing health IT, the bill would create a low-interest small business loan program for clinics and physician offices to purchase new health IT technologies and services. It would also create a tax incentive program to enable medical care providers to deduct costs related to non-EHR healthcare information technology. Finally, the bill would establish two year grants to assist medical care providers in retraining their employees into new positions that use health information technology.