Archive for August, 2011

Recap of Recent Federal HIT Policy Developments: Part 5

August 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Today, the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT (ONC) HIT Standards Committee Implementation Workgroup held its second meeting in as many weeks to work on certification criteria recommendations to correspond with the HIT Policy Committee’s functional objective recommendations for Stage 2 of the Medicare/Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.  Once finalized and approved by the full committee, the workgroup’s recommendations will serve to advise ONC staff as they write the proposed rule on Stage 2 product standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria.

On August 24, the NIH-National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) released a job announcement for a program director in the area of health informatics or biomedical image processing.  The application period closes September 2.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) held the 2011 Public Health Informatics Conference in Atlanta on August 21-24.


Meaningful Use Workgroup Drops the Ball on Promised Specialty-Related Functional Measure Recommendations for Stage 2

August 24, 2011 Leave a comment

When the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT (ONC) HIT Policy Committee Meaningful Use (MU) Workgroup advanced its Stage 2 recommendations to the full committee in early June, it did so with the caveat that the workgroup would reconvene to develop additional recommendations related to specialty documentation, exclusions, and functional measure refinements related to imaging.  During the August 22 MU Workgroup conference call, it was signaled that these recommendations for specialists have once again been postponed until Stage 3 or later.

If this sounds like deja vus, it is because this same promise was made once or twice during the Stage 1 advisory committee discussions in 2009.  At that time, HIT Policy Committee members prioritized the workflow and technology needs of preventive service providers to develop their MU recommendations, promising to come back in Stage 2 to work on specialized medicine.

Where does this leave specialists and MU?  The Stage 2 rulemakings within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and ONC are ongoing, and the staff have the same problem now that they had during the Stage 1 rulemakings in 2009-2010.  That is, most Medicare-participating physicians are eligible for the EHR Incentive Program, but the guidance provided by federal advisers is clinically relevant to only about one-third of those physicians who are eligible.  Thus, the agency personnel drafting the proposed rules need to think up potential solutions on their own.

Categories: EHR, meaningful use, Medicare

ACR Advocacy Update: August 2011

August 17, 2011 Leave a comment

The American College of Radiology’s (ACR) Government Relations and Economics Departments published the August 2011 issue of the ACR Advocacy Update. The ACR Advocacy Update is a monthly e-newsletter featuring contributions from ACR staff who work on federal and state legislative, regulatory, and coding/reimbursement policy issues.

To view previous issues of the ACR Advocacy Update, please visit the ACR Government Relations website.

FDA Workshop on ‘Mobile Medical Applications’ Draft Guidance

August 15, 2011 Leave a comment

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will host a public workshop in Maryland on September 12-13 to discuss the agency’s recently published draft guidance on “mobile medical applications.”  Online registration for in-person attendance or webinar access closes on September 9, but the open slots could conceivably fill up before then.

For details and registration information, please read the August 12 Federal Register notice.

Categories: FDA, research

Meaningful Use Participation Numbers Discussed at ONC HIT Policy Committee Meeting

August 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Yesterday, the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT’s (ONC) HIT Policy Committee (HITPC) held its monthly business meeting.  The highlight of the meeting was a report from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) staff regarding EHR Incentive Program (“meaningful use”) participation levels.

CMS reported that only 2,246 eligible professionals (EPs) and 100 hospitals have successfully attested; 137 other EPs who attested were unsuccessful.  CMS also provided some degree of insight into the exclusions and participation statistics for each of the functionality measures.  For example, CMS shared that of the participants who chose the “patient reminders” menu set measure, reminders were sent to 67 percent of their patients (the minimum threshold is 20 percent of all patients 65 or older or 5 years or younger).  2 percent of participants met the exclusion criteria for that particular measure (no patients older than 65 or younger than 5 with records maintained using certified EHR technology).  67 percent of participants “deferred” this particular menu set measure (in other words, did not choose the measure as one of their menu set options).

The CMS staff also indicated that the agency is currently evaluating participation-by-specialty statistics, and that family doctors and internists are at the top of the list.  Radiology, interventional radiology, and radiation oncology are not currently among the top ten specialties.  The other specialties that are in the month’s top ten, such as Cardiology, Podiatry, Dermatology, and Neurology, have numbers that pale in comparison to primary care.

Categories: EHR, meaningful use, Medicare

NeHC Report on HIE Success

August 2, 2011 Comments off

Earlier today, the National eHealth Collaborative (NeHC) released a report titled, “Secrets of HIE Success Revealed: Lessons from the Leaders.”  The report provides an overview of the experiences, models/plans, successes, and barriers to success of 12 health information exchange (HIE) organizations/networks.  The subject HIEs were Availity, Big Bend RHIO, HealthBridge, HealthInfoNet, Inland Northwest Health Services, MedVirginia, Quality Health Network, Rochester RHIO, Sandlot, SMRTNET, THINC, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

NeHC is the private-public evolution of the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT’s (ONC) now defunct American Health Information Community (AHIC).  In the months prior to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, which formally codified ONC and established the HIT Policy and Standards Committees, NeHC was intended to play a central role as ONC’s primary advisory group and continue the work of its spiritual predecessor, AHIC.  However, ARRA altered the direction and mission of the ONC in such a way that NeHC’s role has evolved over the past two years to be less functional and more educational.  ONC currently uses NeHC to communicate to stakeholders about its initiatives in a less “official” setting than the federal advisory committees/workgroups.

Categories: EHR, research

STEAM Act and Equal Access and Parity for Multi-Campus Hospitals Act

August 1, 2011 Leave a comment

In June 2011, Congresswoman Renee L. Ellmers (NC-2) introduced the STEAM (Stripping The E-Prescribe Arbitrary Mandates) Act of 2011 (H.R.2128), which is presently in the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee and Ways and Means Committee.  The legislation would essentially remove the penalties for eligible professionals from the e-Prescribing Incentive Program, delete eRx as a requisite element of meaningful use for the EHR Incentive Program, and bar eRx reporting requirements from the future Shared Savings Program (Accountable Care Organizations).

In July 2011, Congressman Michael C. Burgess (TX-26) reintroduced the Equal Access and Parity for Multi-Campus Hospitals Act (H.R.2500), currently in the House Ways and Means Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee.  The bill would correct a technicality that restricts multi-campus hospital systems (more than one hospital sharing one CMS Certification Number) to one series of EHR Incentive Program payments for all locations.  H.R.2500 is supported by the major hospital and academic medical center associations and has a solid backing on the Hill.

Categories: EHR, meaningful use, Medicare
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