President Obama has released his 2014 budget proposal, which includes $80.1 billion in spending for theDepartment of Health and Human Services (HHS), an increase of $3.9 billion. The proposed budget for The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) would increase its $61 million budget to $78 million, a 28% increase. The plan also includes a $1 million fee for electronic health record vendors that would almost certainly be passed along to users of the systems.
“In addition to the expanding marketplace and corresponding increase in workload for ONC, much of the work to date has been funded using Recovery Act funds scheduled to expire at the end of FY 2013. Consequently, a new revenue source is necessary to ensure that ONC can continue to fully administer the Certification Program as well as invest resources to improve its efficiency,” the ONC explains in the budget proposal appendix.
In particular, the fee could be used to fund:
- Development of implementation guides and other forms of technical assistance for incorporating standards and specifications into products
- Development of health IT testing tools that are used by developers, testing laboratories and certification bodies
- Development of consensus standards, specifications and policy documents related to health IT certification criteria
- Administration of the ONC Health IT Certification Program and maintenance of the Certified Health IT Product List
- Post-market surveillance, field testing and monitoring of certified products to ensure they are meeting applicable performance metrics in the clinical environment
Continue reading “User Fees for Electronic Health Records?”
Filed Under: Tech, THCB
Tagged: Brian Ahier, ONC, User Fees
Apr 15, 2013
It’s called Blue Button+ and it works by giving physicians and patients the power to drive change.
The US deficit is driven primarily by healthcare pricing and unwarranted care. Social Security and Medicare cuts contemplated by the Obama administration will hurt the most vulnerable while doing little to address the fundamental issue of excessive institutional pricing and utilization leverage. Bending the cost curve requires both changing physicians incentives and providing them with the tools. This post is about technology that can actually bend the cost curve by letting the doctor refer, and the patient seek care, anywhere.
The bedrock of institutional pricing leverage is institutional control of information technology. Our lack of price and quality transparency and the frustrating lack of interoperability are not an accident. They are the carefully engineered result of a bargain between the highly consolidated electronic health records (EHR) industry and their powerful institutional customers that control regional pricing. Pricing leverage comes from vendor and institutional lock-in. Region by region, decades of institutional consolidation, tax-advantaged, employer-paid insurance and political sophistication have made the costliest providers the most powerful.
Continue reading “ONC Holds A Key To the Structural Deficit”
Filed Under: Tech, THCB
Tagged: Adrian Gropper, Blue Button, Clay Shirky, Costs, EHR, entitlement reform, HHS, HIT, Interoperability, Meaningful Use, ONC, open data, patient data, Stage 2 Direct EHR connectivity
Apr 7, 2013
In November 2012, the digital team at HealthEd embarked on a challenge to redesign the face of personal health records. That effort has been rewarded with a first-place win in the category of Best Lab Summaries. And another HealthEd entry was cited as a finalist that “inspired the judges and challenged the status quo.”
About the Health Design Challenge
The Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology and the Department of Veterans Affairs issued a challenge to designers throughout the United States: imagine how personal health records could be improved for clarity, readability, and visual appeal. Given HealthEd’s mission to create better outcomes in personal wellness, the team embraced the Health Design Challenge with typical enthusiasm.
The Health Design Challenge was more than an exercise in graphic design, however. Entrants were required to demonstrate expert knowledge of clinical systems and to render information of relevance for both millennials and senior citizens. The judges wanted more than pretty pictures—participants had to know their stuff. Continue reading “Redesigning the Personal Health Record”
Filed Under: Tech, Uncategorized
Tagged: Department of Veteran Affairs, Design, EHR, Health Design Challenge, HealthEd, Kel Smith, ONC, personal health records
Feb 9, 2013
Today I’m speaking at the ONC annual meeting as part of panel discussing interoperability.
For years, patients, providers and payers have complained that EHRs “do not talk to each other.”
By 2014, I expect this issue to disappear.
Do I expect that every state and territory will have a robust, sustainable healthcare information exchange by 2014? No
Do I expect that every provider will be connected to a Nationwide Health Information Network by 2014? No
Do I expect that a single vendor will create a centrally hosted method to share data by 2014 just as Sabre did for the airline industry in the 1960′s? No
What I expect is that Meaningful Use Stage 2 will provide the technology, policy, and incentives to make interoperability real.
Stage 2 requires that providers demonstrate, in production, the exchange of clinical care summaries for 10% of their patient encounters during the reporting period. The application and infrastructure investment necessary to support 10% is not much different than 100%. The 10% requirement will bring most professionals and hospitals to the tipping point where information exchange will be implemented at scale, rapidly accelerating data liquidity.
Continue reading “Are We Finally Seeing the Dawn of the Golden Age of Interoperability?”
Filed Under: Uncategorized
Tagged: Blue Button initiative, Care coordination, EHR, health information exchange, Interoperability, John Halamka, Meaningful Use Stage 2, ONC, Policy
Dec 12, 2012
Over the past several weeks, many of us at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and Food and Drug Administration have been evaluating the submissions for the Reporting Patient Safety Events Challenge. Team 90, consisting of KBCore (created by CRG Medical, Inc.) and iHealthExchange, was selected the winner of the challenge—and the recipient of the $50,000 prize—because the company’s patient safety reporting system best fit the criteria of the challenge to find and reduce the risks associated with patient care. Right now, finding risks through the reporting of adverse events is slow because paper-based systems may be hard to read and require transmission by fax machines. By modernizing the patient safety reporting system through the use of computer-based applications we can better shed light on medical errors and augment the discovery of new patient safety hazards more timely and efficiently.
Reporting Patient Safety Events Challenge Submissions
The Challenge submissions were evaluated on a variety of criteria to determine which would potentially improve reporting of adverse events the most. The applications were required to make it easier to file an adverse event report using AHRQ’s Common Formats while allowing for:
- The inclusion of additional information during the initial submission and from a follow-up investigation;
- Import of relevant electronic health record or personal health record information, including screenshots; and
- Ability to submit reports to various entities including PSOs, FDA, and other health oversight organizations.
IDinc and Shands Healthcare finished in second place, while third place went to MidasPlus. They will receive $15,000 and $5,000, respectively.
Continue reading “Winners of the Patient Safety Reporting System Challenge”
Filed Under: Health 2.0
Tagged: Adam Wong, Health 2.0 Developer Challenge, ONC, Safety Reporting
Nov 16, 2012
In a time of EHR naysayers, mean-spirited election year politics, and press misinterpretation (ONC and CMS do not intend to relax patient engagement provisions), it’s important that we all send a unified message about our progress on the national priorities we’ve developed by consensus.
1. Query-based exchange – every country in the world that I’ve advised (Japan, China, New Zealand, Scotland/UK, Norway, Sweden, Canada, and Singapore) has started with push-based exchange,replacing paper and fax machines with standards-based technology and policy. Once “push” is done and builds confidence with stakeholders, “pull” or query-response exchange is the obvious next step. Although there are gaps to be filled, we can and should make progress on this next phase of exchange. The naysayers need to realize that there is a process for advancing interoperability and we’ll all working as fast as we can. Query-based exchange will be built on top of the foundation created by Meaningful Use Stage 1 and 2.
2. Billing - although several reports have linked EHRs to billing fraud/abuse and the recent OIG survey seeks to explore the connection between EHR implementation and increased reimbursement, the real issue is that EHRs, when implemented properly, can enhance clinical documentation. The work of the next two years as we prepare for ICD-10 is to embrace emerging natural language processing technologies and structured data entry to create highly reproducible/auditable clinical documentation that supports the billing process. Meaningful Use Stage 1 and 2 have added content and vocabulary standards that will ensure future documentation is much more codified.
3. Safety – some have argued that electronic health records introduce new errors and safety concerns. Although it is true that bad software implemented badly can cause harm, the vast majority of certified EHR technology enhances workflow and reduces error. Meaningful Use Stage 1 and 2 enhance medication accuracy and create a foundation for improved decision support. The HealtheDecisions initiative will bring us guidelines/protocols that add substantial safety to today’s EHRs.
Continue reading “State of the EHR Nation”
Filed Under: Electronic Health Records
Tagged: Meaningful Use Stage 2, Medicare, ONC, Patient Safety, Privacy, Query-based Exchange
Nov 6, 2012
Tomorrow the Presidential election process comes to an end and the advertising will finally stop. We’ll all be relieved. I especially look forward to a quiet dinner at home without robotic election-related calls.
What about healthcare IT? Will differences in the Obama and Romney platforms impact the momentum of Meaningful Use?
Here’s what I believe.
The Obama Healthcare IT platform builds on what we’ve created over the past few years. It will continue to leverage the federal advisory committees (Policy and Standards) to engage a wide array of stakeholders. It will persist the progression to Meaningful Use Stage 3 and possibly future stages. It will embrace certification now the temporary certification process has been replaced with a permanent one. It will support the initiatives of the Standards and Interoperability framework (S&I), although the end of stimulus funds from ARRA means that ONC will move some of the S&I initiatives to private/public partnerships. It will support the current leadership at ONC – Farzad and his delegates such as Steve Posnack, Doug Fridsma, and Judy Murphy.
The Romney Healthcare IT platform notes that Healthcare IT is an issue which has broad bipartisan support. No one argues that a foundation of healthcare IT implemented properly is essential for accountable care organizations. Quality, safety, and efficiency all benefit from the process enhancement afforded by healthcare IT. Michael Leavitt, former Secretary of HHS and chair of the American Health Information Community (AHIC) will lead the Romney transition team and Leavitt has years of experience with healthcare IT issues from the early days of ONC. As Governor of Massachusetts, Romney supported the early EHR rollout efforts of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative.
Continue reading “The Election and Healthcare IT”
Filed Under: OP-ED, THCB
Tagged: HITSP, Interoperability, Meaningful Use, Michael Leavitt, Obama, ONC, Regulation, Romney, Stimulus, Vendors
Nov 5, 2012
The Nationwide Health Information Network Exchange (NwHIN Exchange, or just Exchange) has been operating as an ONC program since 2007. For the past three years, a rapidly growing community of public and private organizations (Exchange Participants) has been routinely sharing information in production. That community now represents thousands of providers and millions of patients. Healtheway is new a non-profit, public-private partnership that will operationally support the eHealth Exchange (formerly referred to as the NwHIN Exchange).
On August 1, 2012, the Exchange Coordinating Committee appointed three representatives to serve on the Healtheway Board of Directors, including: Michael Matthews (CEO, MedVirginia), Paul Matthews (CTO, OCHIN) and Jan Root (CEO, Utah Health Information Network). These individuals, along with Healtheway’s Interim Executive Director, Mariann Yeager, will serve as the initial board of directors for the non-profit. The remaining Healtheway board seats will be filled by up to nine elected Healtheway members. The company launched its Member Program in August 2012, with elections for the member board seats expected in the Fall 2012.
Continue reading “Nationwide Health Information Network Comes of Age”
Filed Under: Uncategorized
Tagged: Brian Ahier, Health Data, Healtheway, NwHIN Exchange, ONC
Aug 30, 2012
Six months to the day after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the “preliminary rules” for Meaningful Use, the final rules are in. For clinicians and policymakers who want to see Electronic Health Records (EHRs) play a key role in driving improvements in the healthcare system, there’s a lot to like here.
For the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC), the agency that oversees the federal health information technology incentive program, the Meaningful Use rules are a balancing act. On one hand, ONC wants to get as many clinicians and hospitals on board with simply adopting EHRs (and thus, the need to set a low bar). On the other hand, they want to ensure that once people start using EHRs, they are using them in a “meaningful” way to drive improvements in care (and thus, the need to set a high bar). I think ONC got that balance just about right.
Let me begin with a little background. In 2009, Congress passed the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, setting aside about $30 billion for incentives for ambulatory care providers and acute-care hospitals to adopt and “meaningfully use” EHRs. Congress specified that the executive branch would define Meaningful Use (MU) and would do so in three stages. The first stage was finalized in 2010 and its goals were simple – start getting doctors and hospitals on board with the use of EHRs. By most metrics, stage 1 was quite successful. The proportion of doctors and hospitals using EHRs jumped in 2011, and all signs suggested continued progress in 2012. Through July 2012, approximately 117,000 eligible professionals and 3,600 hospitals have received some sort of incentive payment.
Continue reading “The EHR “Final Rule” (Finally)”
Filed Under: THCB
Tagged: ACOs, Ashish Jha, CMS, EHR, EHR incentives, Health Data, HITECH Act, Meaningful Use, Meaningful Use Stage 2, ONC, regional extension centers
Aug 27, 2012
Patient-centered care and patient engagement have become central to the vision of a high value health delivery system. The delivery system is evolving from a fee-for-service transactional payment model to a value-based purchasing model using outcome data and quality improvement and attainment. The Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and private payers have spurred delivery redesign of networks that focuses on a set of clinical quality measures and patient care experiences along with efficiency measures.
However, the questions we ultimately really care are: “Did I get better? Am I healthier?”
With the advent of Facebook, PatientsLikeMe® and Avado, consumers and patients are sharing their healthcare experiences openly with their support system and strangers with similar illnesses. Our delivery system has yet to leverage the power of patient/consumer reported data in feeding back to care deliverers in the quality improvement cycle.
Clinical quality measures have traditionally consisted of process or surrogate measures and centered on providers and hospitals. As we move toward a system based on value, the measurement system must shift as well. Part of this movement will be utilizing outcomes directly reported from patients and their caretakers and incorporating these outcomes into quality improvement initiatives and payment models. The widespread adoption of standardized and validated patient-reported outcomes measures (PROMs) would accelerate the development of a patient-centered health system. However, new standards; patient-friendly, digitally-enabled instruments; secure portals; and more research will be required to facilitate adoption.
Continue reading “Finally, Quality We Really Care About”
Filed Under: THCB
Tagged: ACOs, Affordable Care Act, Health Outcomes, ONC, patient engagement, patient perspective, Patient-centered care, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, PROMIS, Quality improvement
Jun 27, 2012