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HIT Newser

HIMSS and CHIME to HHS: ONC Needs Full-time National Coordinator

In a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell, CHIME and ONC stress the need to hire a full-time National Coordinator for the ONC, should Karen DeSalvo continue to serve as both the ONC head and the assistant secretary of health:

“If Dr. DeSalvo is going to remain as the Acting Assistant Secretary for Health with part-time duties in health IT, we emphasize the need to appoint new ONC leadership immediately that can lead the agency on the host of critical issues that must be addressed.”

AMA Calls for Removal of MU Penalties

The AMA calls for all MU penalties to be halted and for the program to be more flexible with a shorter reporting period.  In addition, the AMA urges policymakers to refocus the MU program on interoperability and seek ways to improve product usability.

Cerner Breaks Ground at New Campus

Cerner breaks ground at a new $4.45 billion campus in Kansas City, which is expected to house 16,000 new Cerner employees within the next 10 years. The project includes about $1.75 billion in public tax subsidies.

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Health IT Newser

A No Way for Allscripts and MyWay

A North Carolina arbitration panel rules that Allscripts must pay Etransmedia $9.7 million for a breach of their partner agreement in violation of the state’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The panel found that Allscripts unfairly profited by inducing Etransmedia to buy MyWay software licenses and assuring Etransmedia that it would make the product Meaningful Use-compliant. Allscripts later announced that rather than update MyWay it would phase out the product, leading the panel to rule that Allscripts “deliberately sabotaged” Etransmedia’s sales efforts.

Post-Election Predictions

The recent Republican sweep of the House and Senate may bode well for health IT, predict several industry pundits. One issue that will likely be discussed: the reduction of Stage 2 MU reporting requirements from 365 days to 90 days. Also look for renewed interest in issues around interoperability, telemedicine, and regulation of medical devices, software, and mobile apps.

Stage 2 Attestations Numbers: Disappointing but Predictable

CMS reports that only 4,656 EPs and 258 hospitals have attested for Stage 2 MU through the end of September. That’s less than 17% of the nation’s hospitals and a mere two percent of EPs (though EPs have until the end of February to report their progress.) Officials from the AMA, CHIME, HIMSS, and MGMA called the results disappointing yet predictable, and renewed calls for a shortened MU reporting period in 2015 and more program flexibility. Continue reading…

Health IT Newser

flying cadeuciiHHS Clarification:
DeSalvo Will Retain Leadership of ONC

Five days after announcing that National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo’s appointment as Acting Assistant Secretary of Health, the ONC clarified that DeSalvo would still be the leader of the ONC; she would also continue to chair the HIT Policy Committee, lead the development and finalization of the Interoperability Roadmap, and remain involved in MU policymaking.

HHS said that when DeSalvo’s new appointment was originally announced, DeSalvo’s bio had mistakenly indicated that she had “previously” held the role of National Coordinator.

HIT NEWSER’S TAKE: Did HHS simply do a poor job communicating or did someone recognize a little too late that DeSalvo’s removal might heighten concerns about the ongoing turnover among ONC leadership?

No More CCHIT

The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) announced it was shutting down its operations November 14. CCHIT was created in 2004 to provide certification services for HIT products and to educate providers and IT developers; in January CCHIT announced it would no longer provide testing and certification services for the MU program. In a press release CCHIT Executive Director Alisa Ray said that “the slowing of the pace of ONC 2014 Edition certification and the unreliable timing of future federal health IT program requirements made program and business planning for new services uncertain.”

HIT NEWSER’S TAKE: Coupled with the recent turmoil at the ONC (leadership changes, underwhelming Stage 2 MU attestations numbers), one can’t help but wonder what it all means for long-term viability of the MU program and whether the industry remains committed to its objectives.

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