FDA needs mobile health IT office, lawmaker says

Bill from Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., would establish an Office of Wireless Health.

A California congressman introduced a bill this week to promote health IT innovation, in part by creating a Food and Drug Administration office to oversee mobile health technology.

U.S. Rep. Mike Honda, a Democrat, said in a news release that his Healthcare Innovation and Marketplace Technologies Act would foster innovation through marketplace incentives, challenge grants and more workforce retraining opportunities.

“Investments, development and adoption of technologies remain stagnant,” Honda said in a statement. “Why have the principles of Silicon Valley, which I represent – competition, innovation, and entrepreneurship – not fully manifested themselves in the health-care information technology space? This bill gets us closer to that space.”

The measure would establish an Office of Wireless Health at the FDA to “develop and maintain a consistent, reasonable and predictable regulatory framework” for mobile-health technology issues. One of its goals would be to clarify and simplify existing regulations, Honda’s office said.

The bill, H.R. 6626, also would:

·       Establish an mHealth developer support program at the Department of Health and Human Services that would help developers of mobile applications to meet privacy regulations. Support services would include a nationalhotline, an educational website, and an annual report “that will help translate the wide array of privacy guidelines into common English.”

·       Create a prize program and small innovator challenge grants to attract private investment in three major areas of health IT. A commission comprising private industry, patient safety and privacy advocates, medical professionals and government officials would determine the three areas of greatest need.

·       Provide low-interest loans to clinics and physicians for the purchase of health IT products and services.

·       Create a tax incentive program that would allow providers to deduct costs related to health IT other than electronic health records.

·       Establish two-year grants to help providers retrain employees into new health IT positions.