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HIMSS Offers to Collaborate With HHS for Future of Health IT

October 2, 2014
by Rajiv Leventhal
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The  Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS) has contacted Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, offering to work collaboratively to devise a plan to address health IT issues relating to the nation’s healthcare system.

In a letter written on Sept. 30, HIMSS Chairman Paul Kleeberg and President H. Stephen Lieber wrote that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's (ONC) plans to revise the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan presents an opportunity to work together to review the multitude of overlapping programs, determine how they currently fit into the larger health IT blueprint and formulate a best approach to revising expectations and timelines working within congressional and administration intent. “To help re-establish manageable expectations, HIMSS offers to work with HHS to devise a comprehensive plan to address all health IT issues germane to transforming the nation’s healthcare system,” the letter said.

HIMSS recommends focusing on the three key policy levers: the electronic health record (EHR) Incentive Program, interoperability leading to secure electronic exchange of health information, and electronic reporting of clinical quality measures (CQMs).

Regarding the meaningful use (MU) program, HIMSS said there are profound challenges associated with the transition to 2014 certified EHR technology and requirements for preparing the data to be transmitted, particularly as they relate to view/download/transmit and transitions of care. “For eligible hospitals, eligible professionals, and critical access hospitals not in their first year of the program, the 2015 requirements for 12 months of MU reporting are daunting. HIMSS urges the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to adjust the 2015 requirement to one three-month quarterly reporting period versus a full year,” the letter stated.

Regarding interoperability, HIMSS offers several recommendations to refine ONC’s interoperability framework published in June. Its suggestions include:

• Work with stakeholder organizations to recognize and manage the complexity of a diverse healthcare system;

• Focus on being a convener to drive consensus;

• Consider incentives for providers that implement certified products that achieve the specified aspects of interoperability and information exchange beyond MU;

• Support the use of public and private policy levers beyond MU to foster interoperability and exchange;

• Encourage non-federal incentives and market imperatives to ensure greater community engagement;

• Leverage HIMSS’s definition of interoperability (foundational; structural; and, semantic);

• Bring resources to bear for information security; and,

• Facilitate use of patient privacy preferences.

And regarding the electronic reporting of clinical quality measures, HIMSS says its goal is to develop a roadmap for transitioning to mandatory EHR-enabled CQM reporting for all CMS quality reporting and value-based purchasing programs, including the development of measure sets consisting only of eCQMs specifically designed to capture critical data as part of the normal clinical workflow.

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