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HIMSS Releases its Top Health IT Policy Priorities to Congress

September 11, 2015
by Rajiv Leventhal
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The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) has listed interoperability, cybersecurity, and telehealth as its three biggest policy priorities for Congress to act on this year.

Under the guidance of the Public Policy Committee, HIMSS staff works closely with key congressional decision-makers, committees, and caucuses to advance improvements in healthcare through the use of IT and management systems. As it does every year, HIMSS releases a list of “Congressional asks” to policymakers. In this year’s list includes:

  • Support robust interoperability and health information exchange (HIE): Congress should: direct HHS to review and amend the ONC Health IT Certification Program to include rigorous interoperability testing (or leverage private sector-led testing programs) to ensure consistent implementation of HIE standards and specifications in certified EHR products; remove the Congressional prohibition (levied on HHS annually since 1999) on the use of federal funds for the development of a unique patient identifier standard; direct HHS to study a nationwide patient matching strategy; direct all federally-funded national and state government agencies to have the functionality to exchange data with healthcare institutions through means of standard language interfaces, e-data exchange, and health information exchanges.
  • Support healthcare’s efforts to combat cyber threats: Congress should: direct HHS to identify, through a collaborative process with the community stakeholders, academics, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a single, voluntary, national health-specific IT data security framework; and create a single information sharing pipeline of actionable cyber threat intelligence from the government to the private sector in (near) real time, through a no-cost mechanism.
  • Expand access to telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries: Congress should: amend the allowable originating sites of care beyond those currently stipulated by CMS to include interactions with patients from wherever the patient is located, including the home, where cost-effective and clinically-appropriate; eliminate the geographic restrictions on telehealth; allow expanded use of “store and forward capability” to aid long-term passive monitoring of chronic diseases; expand modalities beyond live (real-time) voice and video to active monitoring between clinicians, patients and care providers; update Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) and Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) to cover in-home monitoring or clinician/patient non-centralized exchanges, including shared decision making; encourage nationwide efforts to harmonize federal and state efforts to address the challenges of licensing clinicians to serve patients across traditional state boundaries.
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