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The Year that Wasn't

December 31, 2013
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The end of the year is always a time for reflection. It's a time to look back at the previous 12 months and decide what went right and what went wrong. We do this in every facet of our life and then look at January 1 as the starting point for renewal. 
I ate too much in 2013, I'm going to lose weight in 2014.
I spent too much time looking at screens in 2013, I'm going to spend more time outdoors in 2014. 
I didn't do enough _____ in 2013, that will change in 2014.
You've heard it all before. Often, skeptics will say, "Talk to me in March." 
I wonder how healthcare IT leaders will approach the turning of the calendar. Will they reflect, will they look forward with renewed energy? With all that's going on in their lives, I'm sure it's easy to let the new year slip by without much notice. That's why we're here at Healthcare Informatics. We'll reflect for them. 
Over the past week or so, I've been looking back at 2013 and looking ahead to 2014 in various health IT facets (meaningful use, HIPAA, etc). And in my view, as was said in my podcast interview with Jason Fortin last week, 2013 was very much felt like the year that wasn't. Whereas in 2012, we had the Supreme Court validating the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announcing the Stage 2 final rule--2013 brought us a lot of "no news." 
CMS did not give eligible professionals and eligible hospitals a delay or extension for Stage 2 that would provide relief for the 2014 penalties. This, despite a TON of pressure from various industry organizations. All summer long, it felt like the industry was pressuring the government into giving them some kind of relief. It didn't really happen. The government did, however, announce that the Stage 3 proposed and final rule would be tabled for the time being--meaning in 2013 it was barely a glimmer in the eyes of government. The feds also did not give any kind of added delay on the transition to ICD-10 in 2013.
Sure, there was certainly government activity this past year. One of the biggest stories of the year in health IT was the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rolling out the so-called Omnibus Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). It was announced in January and enacted in September. 
We also had a changing of the guard at the Office for the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC). One of this industry's brightest lights, Farzad Mostashari, M.D., stepped aside and moved into private industry, eventually making way for Karen DeSalvo, M.D. 
And yet, despite this, 2013 felt very tame when compared to the explosive 2012. Even the DeSalvo appointment, technically doesn't begin until 2014, and thus it's hard to consider this a "2013 event." 
Take a look at the health IT vendor market. It seemed inevitable that major electronic health record (EHR) and other IT vendors would start to merge. The pressures of meaningful use and health system consolidation made the "Urge to Merge" one of our "Tech Trends" last March. While that happened in some degree, it wasn't as big as we may have thought it was going to be back in early 2013. By my account, the biggest vendor driven story of the year was CommonWell being announced at HIMSS13. Big news? Sure. But let's be honest, the verdict is still out on whether or not this alliance is as "groundbreaking" as we're led to believe. 
As I look at the top stories that our readers enjoyed in 2013, I see a trend. The larger 64,000 foot view (as my Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland likes to say) stuff is all there. The analytics/big data/population health trend is very much alive and well, and a part of what providers are doing. But in terms of events, the ones that shape our year and sometimes make this job feel historic, it was fairly sparse. So in the spirit of the new year, let me say...
2013 was kind of quiet, here's to a more eventful 2014
Happy new year everyone! See ya in 2014.
What do you think? Feel free to write something in the comments below or tweet me at @HCI_GPerna


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