News Feature | March 19, 2014

Are Outdated Regulations Inhibiting Health IT

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Health IT Outdated Regulations

FTC host public workshop examining U.S. healthcare competition

A recent Federal Trade Commission announced a two-day workshop to examine competition issues related to certain current developments in the U.S. healthcare industry. Federal, state, and consumer budgets dedicate large sums to healthcare spending, and the FTC is dedicated to ensuring healthcare markets benefit from competition and innovation, both of which can reduce costs and increase the quality and accessibility of health care for consumers.

As Modern Healthcare reports, the public workshop is a result of recent efforts by the FTC to determine whether outdated regulations are squelching the potential of telemedicine and retail clinics to reduce healthcare costs. The agency also wants to know whether non-physicians should be allowed to take on more job duties, and whether consumers facing higher out-of-pocket spending can benefit from price transparency.

“They do a number of workshops, not just in healthcare. It's a way of educating themselves and keeping up to date about things,” said Robert Leibenluft, a former FTC healthcare division director now in private practice as a partner with Hogan Lovells in Washington. “It is important to get information other than from sources who are on the receiving end of a subpoena.”

Five key topics related to health care competition will be addressed in the workshop, including:

  • Professional regulation of Healthcare providers
  • Innovations in Healthcare delivery
  • Advancements in Healthcare technology
  • Measuring and assessing quality of Healthcare
  • Price transparency of Healthcare services

The conference will also try to address some of the leading hotbed questions for the industry, including:

  • Are the professional boards that regulate healthcare stifling competition by preventing non-physician providers such as advanced-practice nurses and dental therapists from practicing to the full extent of their training in hospitals and retail clinics?
  • Do regulatory barriers prevent the adoption of technologies such as telemedicine across state lines, which could save money and extend access in remote areas?
  • Is it possible to publish healthcare prices to create market competition without also creating the risk that the providers will simply engage in price-fixing after their trade-secret prices are revealed?