ONC

Niam YaraghiRep. Mike Burgess (R-Texas) has released a draft bill entitled “ensuring interoperability of qualified electronic health records” in which interoperable (Electronic Health Records) EHRs are defined as those that do not block sending and receiving data to and from other EHRs and provide users with complete access to the captured medical data. The draft bill proposes that detailed methods to assess interoperability be defined by a “Charter Organization.” According to the draft bill, this Charter Organization shall consist of one member from each of the standard development organizations accredited by the American National Standards Institute and representatives that include healthcare providers, EHR vendors, and health insurers. To keep its certification after January 2018, an EHR vendor should comply with the definitions of the Charter Organization, publish API’s to enable data exchange with other EHRs and attest and demonstrate that it has not willfully interrupted data exchange with other EHRs. The draft bill suggests that the Inspector General of HHS shall have the authority to investigate both EHR vendors and medical providers with regards to claims that they have interrupted interoperability.

The proposed Charter Organization will not be successful.

Continue reading “Congress Can’t Solve the EHR Interoperability Problem”

Fred's HeadThe US has spent several billion dollars on medical records, as part of the HITECH program. The goal of that spend was simple: portable medical records for patients. On our current path, we will have medical records, but without that magic word: “portable.” Ironically, the reason for this is identical to the root-cause of the problems with healthcare.gov

The root-cause of the initial failure of healthcare.gov was a lack of accountability and empowerment. There was no one person who was in charge of the operation, and those who were presumed to be in charge did not have the skill-set or political clout needed to make decisions about the project.

The result was the healthcare.gov train wreck. Thankfully, healthcare.gov was turned around.

That turn-around was the result of decisively fixing these exact issues.

Accountability restored, disaster averted.

You would think that the Obama administration and HHS would have learned the “accountability with empowerment” lesson well, if not for IT projects generally, then at least for projects involving Health IT.

Yet we are repeating this mistake with Meaningful Use. For those who are living in a cave with regards to healthcare reform, Meaningful Use is a set of standards designed to ensure that the money that the federal government spends on Electronic Healthcare Records (EHRs) for doctors results in clinically productive outcomes.

Continue reading “What Can Meaningful Use Learn From Healthcare.gov?”

Aron SeibYou have the choice to get your health information anywhere and any way you want –according to the Office of Civil Rights with some limitations. Today, more and more uses of health information are being presented to consumers as innovators recognize our demand for health related applications. Unfortunately, there is a dilemma. Over the past ten years a lot of things have changed – more and more providers are using technology to improve how they deliver care and, once that care is delivered, how they share information with other caregivers that see the patient. Sadly, other things are still pretty much as they were in the 19th Century, including how patients get access to information about themselves held by their provider.

The release of the National Association for Trusted Exchange’s (NATE) Blue Button for Consumers (NBB4C) Trust Bundle is aimed at simplifying interoperability between the healthcare delivery system and the consumer, enabling you to decide how to use your health information.

NATE is an association focused on enabling trusted exchange among organizations and individuals with differing regulatory environments and exchange preferences. With beginnings back in 2012, NATE emerged from a pilot project supported by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). NATE was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization on May 1, 2012 in the District of Columbia. NATE has been operating Trust Bundles in production since November 2012 and recently took over administration of the Blue Button Consumer Trust Bundles.  Working with a broad set of stakeholders through multiple task forces, crowdsourcing and a call for public comment, NATE announced the first release of NATE’s Blue Button for Consumers (NBB4C) Trust Bundle February 4th at the ONC’s Annual meeting. Continue reading “NATE: Making Choices Easier”

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ONC Issues Draft HIT Interoperability Road Map

The ONC releases a draft of its 10-year nationwide interoperability road map, which includes a focus on helping the majority of providers across the care continuum and consumers achieve basic interoperability of health data over the next three years. The ONC also released a draft of its Interoperability Standards Advisory, which includes an assessment of the best available standards and implementation specifications for clinical health information interoperability.

Public comment for the draft Roadmap closes April 3, 2015; comment period for the Standards Advisory closes May 1, 2015.

Meaningful Use Reporting Relief         

CMS proposes rule changes for the EHR incentive program, including a reduction in the 2015 reporting period from one year to 90 days. An additional change would re-align the reporting period to match the calendar year, giving hospitals more time to incorporate 2014 Edition software into their workflows and better align with other CMS quality objectives. CMS will consider additional program modifications to reduce complexity and lessen providers’ reporting burdens.

CMS noted that the proposed rule changes are separate from the upcoming Stage 3 proposed rule that should be be released in March that is expected to limit the scope of the Stage 3 requirements for MU in 2017 and beyond.

Providers, vendors, and professional organizations are breathing a collective sigh of relief over the CMS announcement.  The proposed changes aren’t too surprising, given low Stage 2 attestation numbers and overwhelming provider dissatisfaction with the MU program.

New Valued-based Payment Goals to Drive HIT Adoption

HHS sets a goal for 30 percent of Medicare payments to be link to value-based performance through alternative payment models, such as ACOs, by 2016 and 50 percent by 2018. In addition, HS wants 85 percent of traditional Medicare payments tied to quality by 2016 and 90 percent 2018.

Achieving those objectives will require technology that supports quality-based payments versus the traditional fee-for-service model, so both vendors and providers will need to make aggressive moves to deploy the appropriate tracking and reporting tools. No doubt this will be one of the hotter topics at the HIMSS conference in April.

Continue reading “HIT Newser: A Meaningful Sigh of Relief”

An Epic Loss for Cerner and GE

flying cadeuciiMayo Clinic announces it will replace its existing Cerner and GE systems with Epic’s EHR and RCM system.

The prestigious Mayo Clinic name and clinical reputation make the win especially sweet for Epic, which is in the running for the DoD’s $11 billion EHR contract. Analysts estimate that Mayo will pay Epic “hundreds of millions” over the next several years.

Google Glass Confusion

Earlier this month Google announced the end of its Glass Explorer program and sales of its existing version of Glass. Many mainstream publications carried “Glass is Dead” headlines, which is certain attention-grabbing, though not entirely true.

Individual consumers had the option to pay $1,500 to purchase Google Glass through the now-defunct Glass Explorer program. Enterprise businesses, such as HIT vendors Augmedix and Pristine, are still able to buy the existing version of Glass through Google’s Glass at Work program. In other words, if you’re interested in using Google Glass in a healthcare setting, that option is still available through a Glass at Work partner.

Meanwhile, Google says it is working future versions of its Glass product – though no one is saying when the next release will be. Continue reading “HIT Newser: An Epic Loss for Cerner & GE + Google Glass Confusion”

Jacob RiderI started my blog over 15 years ago.  Yes – it’s been less active in recent years, and as I reflect on why I’ve been less active – only part of the reason is that I was working for a publicly traded company from 2008-2011 .. and a federal agency from 2011 – 2014.  Both of these organizations have reasons to control the messages of their employees.  I needed to be cautious about what I blogged.  So I didn’t blog publicly very much. 

But since November, I’ve had no excuse.  And yet nothing much flowed from these fingertips.  

It should have.  Back in the day – THCB and Docnotes – and a handful of other sites offered bookmarks and observations on health care delivery, the convergence of health care and IT, and random observations.  These days – there is a tidal wave of these things on the Internet. I sometimes question whether MY contributions are of any value now that there is so much out there.  I remember when Dave Winer toyed with killing his blog.  He didn’t.  Nor should I.  This post celebrates the not-killing of my new blog, and the beginning of the NEXT 15 years of my public observations.

Here goes ..

Continue reading “My World in 2015″

Flex-IT Bill, Take 2

flying cadeuciiLawmakers re-introduce the Flexibility in Health IT Reporting Act of 2015, which would shorten the 2015 MU reporting period from one year to 90 days. The bi-partisan-supported bill earned quick support from HIMSS, CHIME, the AMA, MGMA, and other professional organizations. The bill was originally introduced in September but it failed to pass.

Given the growing disenchantment with the MU program, look for this bill to pass – and hopefully give a boost to attestation numbers.

Dr. Google Joins DoD EHR Bid

Google teams up with PwC, General Dynamics, and Medsphere in their bid for the Department of Defense’s $11 billion EHR bid.

Google brings name recognition and a reputation for innovation and data security. While the Epic/IBM team has been looking like the front-runner, Google puts the PwC/Medsphere/GD team back in the hunt. For those keeping score at home, other vendors in the mix include Cerner/Leidos/Accenture Federal and HP/CSC/Allscripts.  A June decision is expected.

Continue reading “HIT Newser: The Flex-IT Bill, Take 2 + Dr. Google In EHR Bid”

flying cadeuciiBy MICHELLE RONAN NOTEBOOM

Accenture Tapped to Continue Work on HealthCare.gov

Accenture, the consulting firm that was hired a year ago to fix the troubled HealthCare.Gov insurance exchange, is awarded a five-year, $563 million to continue its work on the federal site. The government hired Accenture Federal Services to repair the online marketplace after dropping its original contractor, CGI Federal.

The long-term contract with Accenture also signals CMS’s acknowledgement that a task as large as HealthCare.Gov is best run with leadership from an experienced, private-sector vendor.

Connecticut HIE Dissolves After Wasting Millions

A former board member for The Health Information Technology Exchange of Connecticut blames management for the failure of the entity, which was tasked to create statewide HIE but dissolved by the legislature last summer. The HITE-CT “wasted” $4.3 million in federal grants over four years “without accomplishing anything,” according to Ellen Andrews, who served as the board’s consumer advocate.  State auditors also found deficiencies in state controls, legal problems, and a “need for improvement in management practices and procedures.” The state’s legislature is now developing a new exchange strategy.

Prediction: look for more HIEs to falter this year due to mismanagement and lack of sustainability.

Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances on the Rise

Electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS) increased from 1,535 to 52,423 between July 2012 and December 2013, according to a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care. The percentage of pharmacies enabled for EPCS jumped from 13% to 30% during the same period.

The next task: figuring out how to get more than the current one percent of physicians to participate.

ONC Shares Lessons Learned from State HIEs

An ONC report on state HIEs finds that many exchanges lack a critical mass of data and are struggling with data sharing. The case study also found that the technical approaches, services enabled, and use of policy and legislation varied across states; collaboration among HIE participants is critical for success; and states are leveraging a variety of policy and regulatory levers to advance interoperability and data exchange.

CMS Seeks ICD-10 Testers

CMS is seeking approximately 850 volunteers for ICD-10 end-to-end testing in April, according to a CMS bulletin. Volunteers have until January 9to submit applications to participate in the April 26-May 1, 2015 testing week.

Pediatrics Report Increased EHR Use

Seventy-nine percent of pediatricians reported using an EHR in 2012, compared to 58% in 2009, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics.  Only eight percent of physicians say their EHRs include pediatric-specific functionality.

Modernizing Medicine Buys RCM Vendor Aesyntix

EMR developer Modernizing Medicine acquires Aesyntix, a provider of RCM, inventory management, and group purchasing services.

Presumably Modernizing Medicine was most interested in Aesyntix’s RCM component, which may create some concern among Modernizing Medicine’s current RCM partners, which include ADP/AdvancedMD, CareCloud, and Kareo.

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ONC Plans for the Future

The ONC releases an updated five-year strategic plan that stresses interoperability, patient engagement, and the expansion of IT across the care continuum. The document updates the previous strategic plan released in 2011that focused heavily on the Meaningful Use program. Maybe the ONC is not quite dead yet after all.

McKesson Ventures Into Startups

McKesson announces the creation of McKesson Ventures, a venture capital fund that will invest in early-stage and growth-stage healthcare companies attacking healthcare business challenges. Tom Rodgers, who was most recently with Cambia Health, was named managing director of the fund’s investment portfolio.

Stage 2 Attestations Still Lagging

Fewer than four percent of eligible physicians and 35 of hospitals have attested to Stage 2 Meaningful Use, according to the newly released numbers from CMS. The AMA, CHIME, HIMSS and MGMA quickly reiterated the call to shorten the reporting period for 2015 to 90 days. As of November, 2014 CMS has paid $16.6 billion in EHR incentives since the program’s inception. Continue reading “HIT Newser: The Doctor Will Facetime You Now”

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 9.19.49 AMMaking our nation’s health and wellness infrastructure interoperable is a top priority for the Administration, and government plays a vital role in advancing this effort. Federal agencies are purchasers, regulators, and users of health information technology (health IT), as they set policy and insure, pay for care, or provide direct patient care for millions of Americans. They also contribute toward protecting and promoting community health, fund health and human services, invest in infrastructure, as well as develop and implement policies and regulations to advance science and support research.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has a responsibility to coordinate across the federal partners to achieve a shared set of priorities and approach to health IT. To that end, today we released the draft Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020, and we are seeking feedback on the federal health IT strategy. This Strategic Plan represents the collective priorities of federal agencies for modernizing our health ecosystem; however, we need your input. We will accept public comment through February 6, 2015. Please offer your insights on how we can improve our strategy and ensure that it reflects our nation’s most important needs.

A collection of 35-plus federal departments and agencies collaborated to develop the draft Federal Health IT Strategic Plan: 2015-2020, identifying key federal health IT priorities for the next six years (Exhibit 1). The landscape has dramatically changed since the last federal health IT strategy. When we released that Plan, the HITECH Act implementation was in its infancy. Since then, there has been remarkable growth in health IT adoption. Additionally, the Affordable Care Act implementation has begun to shift care delivery and reimbursement from fee-for-service to value-based care. Continue reading “The Federal Strategy For Collecting, Sharing and Using Electronic Health Information”

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