Impact of Potential FDA Regulation of EMRs

Santa Rosa Consulting has a great series of webinars on medical device connectivity and related issues, and I’ve been tapped for the October webinar. My topic revolves around the likely regulation of EMRs by the FDA and the potential impacts such a change might have on providers and manufacturers.

The following is my first take on the topic, and serves as a description of webinar. Any suggestions, points of view and links to relevant content on the Web (news stories, blog posts, regulations, etc.) is welcome.

Register for this webinar here, to be held on October 27, 2010 from noon to 1pm EST.

The Case for Regulating EMRs

From a quarter century point of view, it seems inevitable that the HIT industry will be regulated by the FDA. Look past all the hand waving and hyperventilating caused by this suggestion, and one sees that the HIT industry is already regulated by the FDA. For examples, look no further than blood bank software and PACS. The Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) started regulating blood bank software via the premarket submission process in 1996. From their inception, the FDA considered PACS as accessories to diagnostic imaging modalities, and thus regulated. (Many PACS components have since been reclassified in recognition of their independence from imaging modalities.)

These examples aside, the HIT industry has pretty much avoided FDA scrutiny by claiming they’re just automating administrative tasks and paperwork (i.e., workflow around the paper chart).With the advent of decision support systems tied to CPOE and other applications, “administrative” HIT systems have come to be increasingly recognized as a source of patient safety risk. See Margalit Gur-Arie’s post at the KevinMD blog.Perhaps the story that’s created the most buzz about the danger of EMRs is this Huffington Post piece from April, 2010.

On February 25, 2010, at a HHS panel meeting, Jeff Shuren reported:

The Food & Drug Administration has received 260 reports of health IT-related malfunctions with the potential for patient harm in the past two years, including 44 reported injuries and six reported deaths, said Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of FDA’s Center of Devices and Radiological Health.

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