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D.C. Report: EHR Product Certification, Stage 2 Quality Measures, Politics of Health IT Investment

October 4, 2010
by Sharon Canner, Sr. Director of Advocacy Programs
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EHR Products Receive Certification. The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) today announced it had tested and certified 33 Electronic Health Record (EHR) products under the Commission’s ONC-ATCB program, which certifies that the EHRs are capable of meeting the 2011/2012 criteria supporting Stage 1 meaningful use as approved by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Those certified include 19 Complete EHRs, which meet all of the 2011/2012 criteria for either eligible provider or hospital technology, and 14 EHR Modules, which meet one or more (but not all) of the criteria for Meaningful Use. To view a list of the certified products, click here.

Said Karen M. Bell, M.D., CCHIT Chair: “We are pleased to have quickly completed the certification process for these EHRs so that companies are now able to offer certified products to providers who wish to purchase and implement EHR technology and achieve meaningful use in time for the 2011-2012 incentives.” CCHIT Executive Director Alisa Ray and principal consultant to CCHIT Patricia G. Becker will be featured in a Certification Town Hall at CHIME10 next week.

Quality Group Focuses on Stage 2 Measures. The current charge of the Health Information Technology (HIT) Policy Committee’s Workgroup on Quality is to produce initial recommendations on quality measures and the quality measure process for Stage 2. StateNet Chair Russ P. Branzell, vice president-IS and CIO, Poudre Valley Health System, Fort Collins, Colo., is a member of this workgroup chaired by David Blumenthal, M.D., national coordinator for health information technology at HHS, which met last week to review workgroup domains that include such areas as patient and family engagement, population and public health, safety, and care coordination and effectiveness including overuse/underuse. Additionally, the group was provided an evaluation form to guide their reading of the Gretzky Report on quality measures. It included the questions, “What is the most important measure concept within this domain that we should make sure is addressed by a quality measure?” and “Is it adequately addressed by the available measures listed here – or is it a ‘gap’ that we might need to fill.” For additional information on this recent meeting and how to participate in the next workgroup meeting scheduled for October 8, click here. For additional information on this recent meeting and how to participate in the next workgroup meeting scheduled for October 8, click here.

Politics of Health IT Investment. Earlier this week House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chair Pete Stark (D-CA) criticized the Republican plan to repeal unspent stimulus funding, which includes health IT. Said Stark, “Even Newt Gingrich agrees that we should invest in health information technology to bring our health system into the 21st Century. The Republican pledge is so extreme it would repeal an investment in health IT that will save money and save lives.”

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that this investment will reduce federal spending on health care by more than $12 billion over the next decade and reduce private sector health spending by at least that amount. Representative Stark noted that the Republican Pledge (page 21) would have the Congress immediately move to cancel unspent “stimulus” funds. Should the Republicans assume control of the House and pass such a bill, other steps in the process must include similar action by the Senate. Assuming the President vetoes the bill, overriding that veto would be yet another challenge. As we noted last week, this is speculation, but certainly something to watch.

Advocacy Corner will not be published next week, as I will be in Phoenix for the CHIME10 Fall CIO Forum.