Reed -- who oversees $4 billion in health care benefits to 900,000 Verizon employees, retirees and their dependents -- cited three essential components to health care IT legislation: the development of uniform, interoperable standards; developing the standards in conjunction with two different advisory committees, one to provide input on policy and another made up of private-public partners including purchasers; and support for adoption of these standards so that providers and payers know that the systems they invest in will communicate with each other.
Citing the importance for providers who lack adequate resources for purchasing health care IT systems to have access to grants or loans, Reed said such assistance should be a "last resort" but that it is necessary to ensure the systems are uniformly adopted nationwide.
Reed also highlighted the increased security and privacy that Health IT offers in contrast to today's paper-based system, which allows almost anyone to "open a filing cabinet, take out sensitive patient information, even copy and distribute it, then return the papers without detection."
"Health IT should establish a firewall around patient data, requiring passwords and permission to gain access, and leaving an audit trail of who accessed the data, when and why," Reed testified.
In 2007, Verizon began offering salaried employees electronic personal health records as part of an online health portal, HealthZone, which offers personalized and confidential tools and resources to help users understand their current health status, set health goals, and make better health care decisions.
Verizon's Electronic Personal Health Records program is voluntary.
Employees must enroll, and health care information is imported and managed
from various sources -- physicians, nurses, hospitals, pharmacies and labs
-- as well as information entered by the employee, includi
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