Spotlight Shown on Beacon Communities One-Year Anniversary. During a gathering at the Brookings Institution Tuesday, officials from the ONC, CMS, and the White House highlighted the one-year anniversary of the Beacon Community Cooperative Agreement Program. Funded through a $250 million grant from the ONC, the Beacon Program selected 17 communities to demonstrate how health IT can serve as a foundation to improve the nation’s healthcare system. During the event, the ONC’s program director for Beacon, Aaron McKethan, said each community had to demonstrate the ability to build and strengthen local IT foundations to support broader healthcare capacity, while constructing an implementation framework that fosters innovation and continuous learning from early results. Eight of the 17 communities were on hand Tuesday in Washington to highlight their accomplishments and explain their plans for the next phase of the three-year program. One participate was Catherine Bruno, who is the executive sponsor of the Bangor Beacon Community and the vice president and CIO at Eastern Main Healthcare Systems. Ms. Bruno also serves as CIO Coordinator for CHIME’s StateNet and through the Beacon Program she is demonstrating ways to improve the health of patients with diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, and asthma by enhancing care management; improving access to, and use of, adult immunization data; and preventing unnecessary ED visits and re-admissions to hospitals using health IT. Please visit this website for a full listing of Beacon Communities and an overview of their quality, efficiency and health-related goals.
CMS Innovation Center Unveils New Payment Model Pilots, ACO Learning Sessions. In a move that was foreshadowed during Joe McCannon’s talking points at Brookings, CMS this week announced the launch of three initiatives designed to help hospitals and doctors navigate the path toward becoming an Accountable Care Organization (ACO). For those organizations who feel they are in a position to demonstrate accountable care ahead of final rules, the CMS Innovation Center (CMMI) is asking for applicants to join a Pioneer ACO Model–which will “consistent with, but be separate from the proposed Shared Savings Program.” This two-year program will allow applicants to receive a higher share of the savings, while also exposing them to a higher share of the risk, than the proposed three-year Shared Savings Program. Click here for more details.
The second announcement made by the Innovation Center was a call for comments regarding an ACO financing model called the Advanced Payment Initiative. The concept is that CMS could pay a portion of expected future savings to would-be ACOs to help them cover start-up costs. Advanced payments would be recouped through the ACO’s earned shared savings. Comments on whether and how a program such as this could work are due June 17. Finally, CMS has announced a series of Accelerated Development Learning Sessions devoted to core competencies for ACO development. Four such sessions will be held in 2011, the first of which is June 20-22 in Minneapolis, Minn. Click here for more details.
Implementation Workgroup Seeks Comments on EHR Temporary Program. Established nearly one year ago by HHS, the Temporary Certification Program created a process for testing and certifying health information technology. As part of this process, HHS designated six organizations as ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Body (ATCB) with the responsibility to test and certify EHR technology. In planning for Stage 2, the HIT Policy Committee (HITPC) Implementation Workgroup is tasked with examining experiences thus far given nearly 12 months into the program. CHIME Member and HITPC Implementation Workgroup cochair Liz Johnson/Tenet in recent conversations with CHIME’s ALT expressed strong interest in hearing from CIOs regarding their experience acquiring the certified technology necessary for attesting to Meaningful Use. Following analysis of the comments received through the approximately 30-day public comment period, the HITSC Implementation Workgroup intends to make recommendations to the HITSC regarding the EHR Certification Program for Stage 2 meaningful use.
CHIME members are encouraged to respond directly to the HITPC Implementation Group. You may submit your comments either by (1) Using the comment section in the Federal Advisory Committee (FACA) Blog. Comments will be accepted on a rolling basis or (2) Downloading a copy of the survey [DOCX – 18 KB], and emailing the completed survey to ONC.email@example.com. Please be sure to include “Implementation WG Comments” in the subject line. The latter is recommended as the easier alternative. Comments due June 17, 2011, 5:00 p.m. ET.
FAQ on Exchange of Key Clinical Information and Other Topics Posted. For the meaningful use objective, “capability to exchange key clinical information,” how this is accomplished matters, according to the FAQ (10638) released yesterday. As stated in this FAQ, using a USB, CD-ROM, or other physical media is not permitted. Rather, for the purposes of the ‘capability to exchange key clinical information measure’ exchange is defined as electronic transmission and acceptance of key clinical information using the capabilities and standards of certified EHR technology.” Other FAQs posted this week focus on the following: 10639–EP calculations for medications for CPOE if the EP sees patients whose medications are maintained in the medication list by the EP but were not ordered or prescribed by the EP; 10640–Counting of patients in swing beds in the denominators of meaningful use measures for eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs); 10641– counting of nursery day patients in the denominators of meaningful use measures for eligible hospitals and CAHs; and 10642–identification of lab tests for inclusion in the denominator of the measure for the “incorporate clinical lab-test results” objective.