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HIT Newser: A Meaningful Sigh of Relief

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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.

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HIT Newser: An Epic Loss for Cerner & GE + Google Glass Confusion

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: The Flex-IT Bill, Take 2 + Dr. Google In EHR Bid

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.

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HIT Newser: A Setback for MyMedicalRecords

flying cadeuciiThere’s No Place Like Epic’s Home

Epic reveals plans for a fifth campus, which is slated to include half a million square feet of office space and pay homage to literary classics like “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “The Wizard of Oz.”

A Setback for MyMedicalRecords

A US District Court rules against MyMedicalRecords in its patent case against Walgreens, Quest Diagnostics, and others. MyMedicalRecords, a company that many label a patent troll, contends its patents covered a method of providing online PHRs in a private, secure way. However, a judge ruled that “the concept of secure record access and management, in the context of personal health records or not, is an age-old idea,” and is therefore abstract.

Despite the setback, I doubt MyMedicalRecords will stop demanding organizations to pay up or risk facing a lawsuit. I predict they’ll make some tweaks to their business plan, such as focusing only on organizations with not-quite-so-deep pockets that are willing to settle without a fight.

What Has $564 million Bought Us?

Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Richard Burr (R-NC), and Mike Enzi (R-WY) ask the General Accounting Office to review the ONC-funded health information exchanges to determine what exactly the exchanges created with the government’s $564 million in grant money.

It’s a valid concern, given the significant number of providers and regions still lacking electronic exchange capabilities and the millions that have been spent.

Physicians Reject Stage 2 Attestation

Fifty-five percent of physicians say they won’t attest for Stage 2 MU in 2015, according to a SERMO survey of about 2,000 physicians. Respondents cite several reasons for not attesting including financial concerns, difficulty engaging older patients, and lack of software usability.

Given the lackluster Stage 2 attestation numbers so far, the findings are not particularly surprising. It will be interesting to see what CMS and ONC intend to do in the face of the overwhelming evidence that many providers simply don’t think it is worth the effort.

On To Stage 3

The Office of Management and Budget is currently reviewing the proposed Stage 3 MU rules and will likely publish them in February. CMS states that Stage 3 will include changes to the reporting period, timelines, and structure of the program, including a single definition of Meaningful Use. CMS also adds that “these changes will provide a flexible, yet clearer, framework to ensure future sustainability of the EHR program and reduce confusion from multiple stage requirements.”

Can’t wait to see what is included. And, I can’t help but be a little amused that it’s been six years since the passage of the HITECH legislation and we are just now getting a definition for “Meaningful Use.”

Show Me the Money

Allina Health and Health Catalyst sign a $100 million definitive agreement to combine technologies, clinical content, and front-line personnel.

Rush University Medical Center will implement Merge Healthcare’s cardiology PACS.

Healthcare operating system platform provider Par80 closes $10.5 million in Series A funding led by Atlas Ventures, Founder Collective, and CHV Capital.

Health analytics provider Apervita, formerly knowns as Pervasive Health, completes an $18 million Series A round of funding led by GE Ventures and Baird Capital.

Teledermatology provider PocketDerm raises $2.85 million from an undisclosed investor.

Caremerge, developers of a care coordination platform, raises $4 million in a second round of funding. Investors include Cambia Health Solutions, GE Ventures, Arsenal Health, and Ziegler-LinkAge Longevity Fund.

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HIT Newser: Accenture Tapped to Continue Work on HealthCare.gov

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.

HIT Newser: Appalling Meaningful Use Penalties

flying cadeucii Omnibus Bill Impacts HIT

The 2015 federal budget includes about $60.4 million for the ONC, which is less than the $75 million requested and on par with the 2014 budget. Congress allocated an additional $38.8 million to the HHS Office for Civil Rights, the agency that enforces HIPAA. Also in the bill: a controversial requirement for the ONC to decertify products that block health information sharing.

Appalling Meaningful Use Penalties

CMS reports that more than 257,000 eligible professionals will face penalties in 2015 for failing to meet Meaningful Use requirements. The AMA quickly announced it was “appalled by the news.”

Another Call to Cut Reporting Period

A group of 30 Republican House members call on HHS to shorten the 2015 Meaningful Use reporting period from 365 days to 90 days. A number of professional groups, including the AAFP and CHIME, support the extension.

From Foes to Financiers

Former Allscripts executives Glen Tullman and Lee Shapiro invest in Lightbeam Health Solutions, a population health management solution provider. Pat Cline, the founder and former president of NextGen, is currently Lightbeam’s CEO.

ATA Offers Accreditation

The American Telemedicine Association launches an accreditation program for providers offering online, real-time consults to patients. 

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HIT Newser: The Doctor Will Facetime You Now

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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: Health Data Outside the Doctor’s Office Part II

Health Data Outside the Doctor’s Office

A new JASON report offers recommendations for creating a health information system infrastructure that achieves interoperability between EHRs and integrates data from personal health devices, social media, demographics, and other sources. More details and a robust discussion from THCB readers found here.

It’s the Money, Stupid

The biggest factor influencing physicians to adopt EHRs since the passage of the HITECH act: incentive payments or financial penalties. An ONC data brief reveals that 62% of providers identify financial incentives as a major motivation for EHR adoption; board certification was the second most common influencer at 39%.

HIEs Facing Financial Struggles and Adoption Hurdles

Despite $600 million in federal funding, most HIEs are not financially viable, according to a RAND Corporation study. Only 25% of HIEs consider themselves financially sustainable and most are still struggling to find a value proposition. Physicians often resist HIE use because of interruptions in workflow, interface problems, and costs, while hospitals adoption lags due to a lack of a business case, insufficient standards, and legal/ethical issues.

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HIT Newser: Alarm Issues Top Health Hazard List

flying cadeuciiCMS Gives Hospitals One Month Attestation Reprieve

CMS extends the deadline for eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals to attest for MU from November 30 to December 31, giving hospitals more time to submit MU data for the 2014 program year in order to receive payments under EHR incentive programs. CMS also pushed back the deadline for hospitals to electronically submit clinical quality measures to December 31.

VA Issues RFP for New Scheduling System

The VA issues an RFP to replace its 30 year-old appointment scheduling system with a commercially available solution to integrate with its existing VistA platform. The proposal deadline is January 9 and potential bidders will not be required to have prior experience working with the agency.

CareTech Solutions Negotiating Sale to HTC Global Services

HIT service provider CareTech Solutions files an “intent to sell” to HTC Global Services, a provider of IT services for multiple industries.Continue reading…

HIT Newser: The CommonWell Alliance Gets More Common

The CommonWell Alliance Gets More Common

Aprima and CareCloud join Allscripts, Cerner, McKesson, athenahealth, Greenway, and RelayHealth in the CommonWell Alliance, a nonprofit consortium of HIT vendors focused on fostering interoperability.

Coalition Says Stick to ICD-10 Schedule

CHIME, AHIMA, HFMA, and a dozen more industry organizations send a letter to Congressional leaders urging no further delays to the implementation of ICD-10.

CVS Health Ramps Up Digital Health Efforts

CVS Health will expand its efforts in digital healthcare with the opening of a 15,000 square foot innovation lab in Boston that will house up to 100 employees.

KLAS: NextGen Tops for RCM Services

KLAS names NextGen Healthcare the top provider of ambulatory 2014 RCM services in a report that ranks the best-performing HIT vendors for outsourced billing and RCM.

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