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Washington Debrief: New ONC Fellows Named

August 20, 2013
by Jeff Smith, Director of Public Policy at CHIME
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Jeff Smith, Director of Public Policy at CHIME

The second full week of August roared ahead much like the first, with two major players in the health IT space calling for a Stage 2 Meaningful Use Extension.  Such recommendations are no stranger to this readership, but for HIMSS and the AAFP, these policy announcements add to the growing chorus CHIME began in late May.  The dog days of summer these are not.  Welcome to this week’s edition of the Washington Debrief, covering what CIOs need to know from the week that was August 12-16, 2013.

HIMSS, AAFP Join CHIME and Other HIT Stakeholders in Calling for MU Extension

Two important constituent groups sent letters to HHS last week, urging HHS to reconsider timelines for Meaningful Use attestation in 2014.  The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) sent a letter to Secretary Sebelius, CMS Administrator Tavenner and National Coordinator Mostashari urging them to launch Stage 2 of Meaningful Use as scheduled, but to extend the attestation period to 18 months.  As evidence in support for their call to extend stage 2 reporting periods by six months, HIMSS tapped their analytics database which contains information on more than 5,400 hospitals’ IT infrastructure.  According to HIMSS’ analysis, 68 percent of eligible hospitals and 41 percent of tethered ambulatory facilities have purchased the required product to attest to meaningful use Stage 2.  However, there is concern that many of those providers do not possess the required version of those products, which have to be certified to new criteria.

Similarly, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) circulated a similar proposal, asking for a 12-month extension in 2104.  AAFP represents more than 110,600 family physicians nationwide.

 "We are increasingly concerned that the regulatory expectations of [meaningful use] Stage 2 and its current timeframe will outstrip the capacity of many certified electronic health record technology vendors and ambulatory family medicine practices,” said Dr. Glen Stream, AAFP board chair, in a letter to CMS Administrator Tavenner.  “In the interest of advancing the policy priorities of MU and maintaining the momentum of health care transformation brought about by the CMS EHR Incentive Programs, we urge CMS not to delay the implementation of MU Stage 2 but to extend the timeframe for compliance with MU Stage 2 requirements by 12 months,” the letter pronounced.

With HIMSS and AAFP adding their constituents’ voices to the call, the campaign to extend Meaningful Use broadens its ranks to include CHIME, AHA, NRHA and the AMA in recent weeks.

ONC Fellows Program Gets Spotlight; CHIME Members Among Inaugural Class

Twenty-eight Meaningful Use-savvy clinicians and healthcare professionals from 18 states will be helping other providers find IT success as part of a new initiative at the the Office of the National Coordinator.  The inaugural class of ONC’s Health IT Fellows will “provide grassroots insight and…act as champions to their provider and practice community colleagues on a local and national scale,” a purpose statement for the program said.  “Fellows will lend their voice and experience regarding ways providers can leverage Health IT to improve patient engagement and experience in the delivery of patient care, making Meaningful Use meaningful,” the statement continued.  The Spring 2013 Fellows include mostly primary care providers and administrators, including 17 physicians, five administrative workers, three office managers, one IT professional, one nurse and one nurse practitioner.  They also represent a range of organization setting types including small practices, large practices, Critical Access Hospitals, rural clinics, and tribal health organizations.  In order to promote relationship development and allow for a mature feedback process, the Fellows have been divided into three tracks which correspond directly with the National Quality Strategy, specifically:

  • Patient Safety (NQS priority 1)
  • Million Hearts (NQS priority 4)
  • Leveraging MU in Community (NQS priority  5)

All Tracks are responsible for defining their goals and objectives as Fellows and are supported by ONC Subject Matter Experts. The Health IT Fellows are of, by, and for the practices and as such, we will continue to provide insight into the program and share examples with you on how the Fellows are leveraging meaningful use in their practices. 

Special congratulations to CHIME Members, Emily Krohn, CIO at Boone County Health Center, a critical access hospital in Albion, Nebraska and Steve Stark, CIO at Cass County Health System in Atlantic, Iowa.

Federal Officials to Demo Data Segmentation Technology to CHIME Members This Week

This Wednesday, CHIME will be hosting a joint webinar between the Policy Leadership Council and CHIME StateNet to hear about the Data Segmentation for Privacy (DS4P) Initiative of ONC.  This initiative is being led by a group under the Standards and Interoperability Framework, who’s objective is “to create a robust, repeatable process based on federal best practices that will enable ONC to execute on initiatives that will help improve interoperability and adoption of standards and health information technology,” according to their website.  The purpose of the DS4P initiative  “is to enable the implementation and management of varying disclosure policies in an electronic health information exchange environment in an interoperable manner with the goal to produce a pilot project allowing providers to share portions of an electronic medical record while not sharing others, such as information related to substance abuse treatment, which is given heightened protection under the law.”

Scott Weinstein, Policy Analyst at the Office of National Drug Control Policy, will give an overview of the DS4P Initiative, and Matthew Arnheiter of Netsmart will demo the technology they are using in their Data Segmentation Privacy Pilot. The goal of the pilot is to demonstrate a viable technology solution for sequestering and exchanging sensitive patient data such as behavioral health and mental health information.

Click here to register.

Federal Public Policy Award for CIO Leadership Announced; Nominations Due Sept. 6

CHIME CIO Members who have demonstrated leadership at the Federal level in educating Congress and the Administration on the value of health IT and its role in patient care.  Involvement with the PSC, PLC, a regulatory comment workgroup, and National Health IT Week are examples of federal level activity.  Nominations are now being accepted for the First Annual Federal Public Policy Award with submissions due by September 6, 2013.  This annual award recognizes leadership at the Federal level for a range of activities:

  • Demonstrated leadership at the Federal level in educating policy makers on the value of health IT through Congressional letters, Congressional meetings, and/or regulatory comments among other things;
  • Testifying before Federal workgroups or a Congressional Committee;
  • Visiting with your Representative, Senator or Congressional staff in DC or in your District; or
  • Providing your feedback on Federal level initiatives through StateNet and myCHIME.

Nominations are due September 6, 2013.  Nominations may be submitted by an organization on behalf of a candidate or self-nominations are welcome as well.  Include a CV with your letter of nomination and email to Angela Morris, amorris@cio-chime.org.  The winner will be announced as part of the Fall Forum in Scottsdale, AZ (October 9-11, 2013).

Edited by Gabriel Perna

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