FTC, ONC put vendors on notice

Mike Miliard | Healthcare IT News | October 10, 2014

The Federal Trade Commission has some news for health IT vendors whose zeal for competitive marketshare outweighs their willingness to share data: they're watching, and will step in where necessary. "We are working with ONC staff to identify potential competition issues relating to health IT platforms and standards, market concentration, conduct by market participants, and the ability of health IT purchasers to make informed buying decisions," wrote FTC officials in a blog post this week.

Healthy competition "is central to improving health care quality and outcomes, reducing costs, and improving the consumer experience," write Tara Isa Koslov, of FTC's Office of Policy Planning; Markus Meier, of its Bureau of Competition and David R. Schmidt, of its Bureau of Economics. But as electronic health records and other new health information technology platforms are increasingly deployed by care providers hoping for efficiencies and care coordination, FTC sees "potential threats to competition from high switching costs, data lock-in, misguided standard-setting activities, and other features of health IT systems and platforms."

The blog post reminds vendors that "FTC is well-positioned to monitor competition in today’s burgeoning health IT marketplace – relying on our combined expertise in health care, technology, and health-related privacy and data security issues." Together, FTC and ONC "will continue to pay close attention to developments in health IT markets," FTC officials say...