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Tag: Meaningful Use

The HIT Emperor Has Never Had Any Clothes

Over the last several months, I have worked to make the following the official policy of the Massachusetts Medical Society:

That the MMS will advocate to our State and Federal Representatives to end all legal constraints and financial inducements arising from the use or non-use of Office of National Coordinator (ONC) Certified EHR Technology.

That the MMS will encourage our Massachusetts Federal Legislators to introduce legislation to end the ONC’s EHR certification program, and will ask the President of the United States to immediately request that such legislation be introduced.

While the MMS’s Committee on Information Technology voted unanimously to support the above proposal, the MMS rejected the above and choose instead to make the following official MMS policy:

That the MMS will work with appropriate government entities to foster EHR innovation, affordability, and functionality by modifying the certification process for EHRs to improve patient care.

Without a doubt, ONC’s EHR certification program has stifled innovation in EHRs in particular and in health information technology (HIT) in general. In addition, the data accumulated to date has shown these ONC’s Certified EHRs have failed to have a meaningful impact on either the cost or quality of healthcare.

The 6 December 2016 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine has an article which shows that for every hour a physician is involved with direct patient care results in an additional 2 hours of EHR work (in the office/clinic) and then more EHR work from home. No wonder MDs are so dissatisfied with the practice of medicine. The accompanying editorial (Ann Intern Med. 2016;165:818-819) concludes “Now is the time to go beyond complaining about EHRs and other practice hassles and to make needed changes to the health care system ”

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Meaningful Use: RIP

Richard Gunderman goodA decade ago, electronic health records were aggressively promoted for a number of reasons.  Proponents claimed that they would facilitate the sharing of health information, reduce error rates in healthcare, increase healthcare efficiency, and lower costs.  Enthusiasts included the technology companies, consultants, and IT specialists who stood to reap substantial financial rewards from a system-wide switch to electronic records. 

Even some health professionals shared in the enthusiasm.  Compared to the three ring-binders that once held the medical records of many hospitalized patients, electronic records would reduce errors attributable to poor penmanship, improve the speed with which health professionals could access information, and serve as searchable information repositories, enabling new breakthroughs through the mining of “big data.”

To promote the transition to electronic records, the federal government launched what it called its “Meaningful Use” program, a system of financial rewards and penalties intended to ensure that patients would benefit.  Naturally, this raised an important question: if digitizing health records was such a good idea, why did the federal government need to impose penalties for health professionals who failed to adopt them?  Perhaps electronic health records were not so self-evidently beneficial as proponents suggested.

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The Massachusetts Medical Society on Meaningful Use

Massachusetts Medical Society President Dr. Dennis Dimitri sent the following comments on Meaningful Use Stage III and the Medicare Access and Child Health Reauthorization Act  to CMS on Tuesday. THCB is pleased to feature them for our readers.  If you agree, we urge you to share with your colleagues, your elected representatives and on social media. – John Irvine  

Dear Mr. Slavitt and Dr. DeSalvo:

On behalf of the 25,000 physician, resident and medical student members of the Massachusetts Medical Society I am writing to provide our comments on Stage III Meaningful Use as it relates to the Medicare Access and Child Health Reauthorization Act. It is our understanding that the AMA is submitting extensive and detailed comments on specific aspects of the Meaningful Use Stage III, including a proposed revision of the program which we strongly urge the Department to consider going forward. Our comments will highlight several of the overarching problems with the meaningful use program as currently constructed and its impact on practicing physicians and our patients.

To put our comments into context I would like to underscore that Massachusetts physicians were early adopters of Electronic Health Records. The MMS has been committed to helping our members understand and implement successfully EHRs for well over a decade. We were one of the founding members of the MA EHealth Collaborative (MAeHC) and continue to support this important project which helps physicians choose and implement EHRs in their offices. We understand well the promise of this technology.

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Is Obamacare Working? Show us the Data

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As President Obama’s healthcare reform unfolds in the last years of his administration, critics and supporters alike are looking for objective data. Meaningful Use is a funding program designed to create health IT systems that, when used in combination, are capable of reporting objective data about the healthcare system as a whole. But the program is floundering. The digital systems created by Meaningful Use are mostly incompatible, and it is unclear whether they will be able to provide the needed insights to evaluate Obamacare.

Recent data releases from HHS, however, have made it possible to objectively evaluate the overall performance of Meaningful Use itself. In turn we can better evaluate whether the Meaningful Use program is providing the needed structure to Obamacare. This article seeks to make the current state of the Meaningful Use program clear. Subsequent articles will consider what the newly released data implies about Meaningful Use specifically, and about Obamacare generally.

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A Small EHR Vendor’s Emotional Open Letter to Users

flying cadeuciiOver the last few years, we have seen large EHR vendors purchase the moderate size EHR vendors, while moderate-size EHR vendors acquire smaller EHR vendors. We can expect to see a further decline in the number and diversity of EHRs as the IT mandates of Meaningful Use 2 and 3 are technically unachievable for all but the most well-endowed EHR vendors.

Along with the decreasing diversity of EHR options, an increasing number of physicians have lost the ability to choose the most important tool in their black-bag, their EHR, as many are now employed by large organizations which tell the physicians which EHR/HIT tools they are allowed to use.

If there was data that “Certified” EHRs, “Meaningful Use,” ICD10 and PQRS mandates had an impact on the cost or quality of healthcare which was commensurate with the IT costs and logistical disruptions, I would be the first to encourage physicians to use the new and proven technology. Unfortunately, we still do not know if “more” HIT is good for the healthcare system and society in general, or if it is only good for the IT industry.

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Is Obamacare working? Where’s the data?

flying cadeuciiAs President Obama’s healthcare reform unfolds in the last years of his administration, critics and supporters alike are looking for objective data. Meaningful Use is a funding program designed to create health IT systems that, when used in combination, are capable of reporting objective data about the healthcare system as a whole. But the program is floundering. The digital systems created by Meaningful Use are mostly incompatible, and it is unclear whether they will be able to provide the needed insights to evaluate Obamacare.

Recent data releases from HHS, however, have made it possible to objectively evaluate the overall performance of Meaningful Use itself. In turn we can better evaluate whether the Meaningful Use program is providing the needed structure to Obamacare. This article seeks to make the current state of the Meaningful Use program clear. Subsequent articles will consider what the newly released data implies about Meaningful Use specifically, and about Obamacare generally.

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HIT Newser: Prison time for HITECH fraud

CVS Health acquires Target’s healthcare biz

CVS Health will pay $1.9 billion to acquire Target’s healthcare businesses, including 1,600 pharmacies and 80 MinuteClinic health clinics.

CVS Health also just opened its Boston-based Digital Innovation Lab, which will focus on developing cutting-edge digital services and personalized capabilities that offer an accessible and integrated personal pharmacy and health experience.

CVS is making big strides to position itself as both a digital innovator and major provider of primary care services. Look for them to continue to build on existing partnerships with regional health systems. What’s next – maybe more integration of its health apps into EMRs, patient portals, and HIEs?

Former hospital CFO sentenced to prison for attestation fraud

Joe White, the former CFO of Shelby Regional Medical Center in Texas, is sentenced to 23 months in federal prison for falsely attesting that the hospital was a meaningful user of EHR. White was also ordered to pay almost $4.5 million in restitution to Medicare’s EHR Incentive program. Continue reading…

Anatomy of a Healthcare Quality Metric

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In the future, doctors who provide better healthcare will be paid more. When a doctor gives good care, she will get credit. For factors out of that doctor’s control, she won’t be penalized. The patient, too, will be rewarded for taking care of his own health. In short, payments will align with good care, and good care will become more common.

This is the promise of value-based care, which is coming, according to almost everyone. Medicare is pushing it. Private payers are preparing for it.Top providers are tooling up.

And yet, the question lingers — how exactly do we measure quality? Today quality measurement is rigid, periodic, and manual. Here’s a peek behind the curtain of what we measure today — and what’s possible tomorrow.

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HIT Newser: We Need Interoperability, Says HELP

Judy Faulkner pledges to donate her wealth

Epic founder and CEO Judy Faulkner announces plans to give away 99% of her estimated $2.3 billion wealth to charity. Faulkner joins 136 other individuals and families in the Giving Pledge, which was launched by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates to encourage billionaires to give the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes.

What’s not to like about that? Good to know that if Epic wins the $11 billion bid for the VA’s EHR system, some of the government’s money will eventually trickle back down to charity.

Are EHRs creating disparity in care?

A study from Weill Cornell Medical College looks at “systematic differences” between physicians who participated in the Meaningful Use program and those who did not, noting that the differences “could lead to disparities in care.”

The researchers suggest that providers participating in the MU program may provide higher quality care to their patients as physicians using paper records “have less reliable documentation and weaker communication” between providers and won’t benefit from EHR-enabled quality improvements.

I suspect that physicians relying on paper records would balk at the suggestion that the care they provide is inferior to their more digitally-equipped peers. However, it’s hard not believe that the overall care process would be enhanced if all providers could electronically share critical patient information.

News Flash: Government is wasteful in its spending

The Government Accountability Office releases a report calling for urgent action on federal IT Continue reading…

Keep Calm and Interoperate On

Digital DoctorFollowing the recession, the Obama administration sought shovel-ready projects.

One unlikely shovel wielding aggregate demand was health information technology. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act passed in 2009 directed 5 % of the stimulus towards digitizing medical records.

Computerization of medical records doesn’t induce the images of public works as building freeways during the Great Depression does, but the freeway is a metaphor for exchange of information between electronic health records with the implication that such an exchange is a public good and so government intervention is justified.

Robert Wachter, voted the most influential physician by Modern Healthcare, sums the optimism and frustration with the electronic health record (EHR) in Digital Doctor – which stands to be a classic.

It was Bush Jr., not Obama, who started the digitization. Seeking bipartisanship after the war in Iraq, Bush was inspired by his closest ally, Tony Blair, who was wiring the National Health Service (NHS) – a $16 billion initiative which has since failed, spectacularly.

Bush founded the Office of National Coordinator of Health Information Technology (ONC) and appointed David Brailer – a physician, quant and entrepreneur – as head. Brailer wanted interoperability so that hospitals shared information. It is because of interoperability that we can use our debit cards in New York and Singapore. The market must agree on a common language, such as the TCP/ IP for the internet, to achieve interoperability.

Patients suffer when systems can’t talk. Were patients, not a third party, bearing the full costs of care – a free market – they might have forced hospital information systems to talk. Rightly or not, healthcare is not a free market and hospitals have little motivation in making cross-talking simpler.

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