Bill backs Office of Wireless Health

June 19, 2013 in Medical Technology

A California congressman has reintroduced legislation that would create an Office of Wireless Health in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., reintroduced H.R. 2363, known as the Healthcare Innovation and Marketplace Technologies Act (HITMA), last week. The bill had been introduced last year, but didn’t advance beyond the committee stage.

“New and emerging healthcare technologies are being developed every day, often with little support for their long-term reach. This legislation seeks not only to improve healthcare delivery, but to ensure that our government agencies have the tools they need to encourage innovation,” Honda said in a June 13 press release. “With implementation of the Affordable Care Act just around the corner, this is a major step forward for both patients and providers.”

[See also: Obama paves way for FDA’s mobile app guidelines.]

While establishing a new office within the FDA “to cultivate a predictable regulatory framework on wireless health issues, as well as develop an mHealth support program at the Department of Health and Human Services to help mobile health app developers conform to current privacy standards,” the legislation would also create a challenge grant program to foster new IT approaches, create a low-interest small business loan program to help clinics acquire new technology, and create two-year grants to help in employee training.

David Collins, senior director of mHIMSS, said this morning the organization is supportive of Honda’s efforts – as it was  when the bill was first introduced last December – and that it aligns with mHIMSS’ mobile public policy principles. He said the bill offers the right balance of innovation and support via grants and funding, and is a good sign that mHealth funding is getting the same emphasis as EHRs and meaningful use.

“It’s clear that a balance is needed between regulation and legislation related to mHealth. mHealth touches so many different agencies,” added mHIMSS Manager Thomas Martin. “The FDASIA workgroup is highlighting many challenges innovators are facing in the mobile arena. mHIMSS public policy principles include working towards a unified regulatory approach. The goals of HIMTA are to establish resources which help the industry innovate and provide support to the FDA, not to introduce new regulations which stifle innovation.”

“Congressman Honda is taking a comprehensive view of the value of health IT and how the many different solutions – ranging from telehealth to physician tablets to portable EKGs – give clinicians, patients, and caregivers new tools to impact our health at reduced costs,” said Alice Borelli, The Intel Corporation’s director of global healthcare policy, in the press release.  “We applaud the congressman’s leadership in advancing better health and better health systems.”

[See also: Legislation drafted for mHealth security.]

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