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Obama wins — now what?

November 19, 2008
by kate
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After an election that gripped the nation (and, let’s face it, the world) and inspired record-breaking numbers at the polls in some areas, Senator Barack Obama is set to take the reigns as Commander-in-Chief in January. While there are certainly several issues on his agenda — the wars, the economy, healthcare and the auto industry, to name a few — one that’s certainly generating a lot of discussion within the healthcare IT community is the fate of the existing initiatives and organizations focused on the adoption of technologies in the hospital setting.

The big question on many of our minds is: what changes are we going to see with the new administration?

One thing that probably won’t change is the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology. According to a statement made last week, CCHIT Chairman Mark Leavitt, M.D., says he does not expect the Commission to be “bypassed or thrown aside.”

There is less certainty, however, regarding the American Health Information Community’s successor group (AHIC 2.0). Leavitt has expressed some concern that the progress that has been made could stall under the new administration.

It’s understandable why he might have some apprehension; after all, he’s seen all that CCHIT was able to accomplish with the leeway it was given under the current regime. In two years, the Commission has certified 150 EHR products, which accounts for 50 percent of all EHR vendors and 75 percent of the market. And that certification is critical; the executives from EHR companies that I’ve spoken with at conferences like TEPR and MGMA view certification in the latest standards as something that gives them a competitive edge. As several different executives have told me, receiving certification can separate the contenders from the pretenders in the EHR market, in addition to instilling confidence in users (and better yet, potential users).

AHIC 2.0 also has a key purpose, as it was initiated back in the summer to continue the standards work started by its predecessor (which was created in 2005 to provide recommendations to HHS on how to accelerate the development and adoption of health IT). AHIC 2.0, however, is an independent public-private partnership, and Leavitt fears that if Congress abandons the public-private model in favor of legislating health IT standards, the process will suffer.

It’s one thing that he says should not change. Let’s hope the lawmakers heed to his advice.

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