It may have been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon, but not in Washington DC. Last week, we saw the introduction of two congressional bills here (SGR fix) and here (EHR interoperability) and two proposed rules from HHS (one from CMS and one from ONC) – all of which would have substantive impact on health care in the US, and the role of information technology in how health is optimized and care is delivered. While the iron’s still hot, let’s take a 30,000-foot view at all of this. I’ll follow up later in the week with a more detailed overview of the ONC and CMS proposed rules with a bit more of an editorial voice on the SGR fix and Burgess’ interoperability bill.
- The first document to land – way back on March 10th – was the bill from Representative Burgess.
Some context: he’s a physician. He understands the physician perspective – and is – like many physicians – confused by the paradox that several years and $20B after the passage of HITECH – we don’t have plug-and-play interoperability between health IT systems yet. He might be asking: “isn’t this what was supposed to happen by now?” Compelled by his training as a physician and (as my wife would argue) a human with a Y chromosome, Rep Burgess sees a problem and wants to fix it – hence this legislation. HHS didn’t fix this? Industry didn’t fix it? Well, then, let’s see if Congress can fix it! What’s the approach?
- The bill attempts to redefine interoperability as:
“does not block access.”