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Archive for January, 2012

White House Confirms Resignation of U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra

January 31, 2012 Leave a comment
White House Image of U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra

U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra (White House OSTP)

Earlier this week, the White House confirmed reports that Aneesh Chopra, U.S. Chief Technology Officer (Office of Science and Technology Policy) and member of the HIT Standards Committee, plans to resign in order to pursue other undisclosed opportunities.  The White House statement did not discuss the effective date of the resignation or any potential plans to find a replacement.

Chopra was recruited by President Obama in 2009 to fill the then-newly created position of U.S. Chief Technology Officer.  Previously, he served as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Secretary of Technology and proliferated health information exchange in that state.

Chopra is renowned in HIT policy circles for his enthusiasm, casual demeanor, communication, and political astuteness.  It is because of this skill set that many are reporting he might potentially be planning to run for office.

CMS Announces Revamp of the EHR Information Center’s Voice Activated System

January 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Earlier today, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a revamp of its EHR Information Center Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system.

The EHR Information Center is basically the CMS help desk for answering questions about the EHR Incentive Program (“meaningful use”).  The revamp to the IVR system includes a new “hot topics” section and an updated password reset process for the CMS website that handles program registrations and attestations.

The EHR Information Center can be accessed by dialing 1-888-734-6433 (primary number) or 888-734-6563 (TTY number).  To reach a human on the other end, you must call during the listed business hours, 7:30AM-6:30PM (Central) Monday through Friday.  The IVR system component of the EHR Information Center, however, is generally accessible at all times.

Categories: EHR, meaningful use, Medicare

ONC’s Stage 2 EHR Standards, Implementation Specifications, and Certification Criteria NPRM Under OMB Review

January 24, 2012 1 comment

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has indicated that the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for HIT’s (ONC) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Stage 2 EHR standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria was submitted for OMB review last week.  OMB has up to 90 days to review the proposed rule, though the process does not usually take that long.  This is one of the last steps in the NPRM development process prior to submission for publication in the Federal Register for public comment.

As of this writing, the corresponding Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ NPRM on Stage 2 of the EHR Incentive Program (“meaningful use,” or MU) has not yet been submitted for OMB review.  This situation is expected to change in the very near future.

The late January OMB submissions do not bode well for a (previously targeted) February 2012 publication of both NPRMs.

Categories: EHR, meaningful use, Medicare

Additional Meeting with ONC and CMS on Meaningful Use and Hospital-Located Eligible Professionals

January 19, 2012 1 comment

Earlier today, representatives from the American College of Radiology (ACR), Healthcare Billing and Management Association (HBMA), Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), and Radiology Business Management Association (RBMA) met again with the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT (ONC) to discuss Medicare EHR Incentive Program (“meaningful use,” or MU) compliance concerns specific to eligible professionals (EPs) in certain hospital settings.  This time, the National Coordinator for HIT, Dr. Farzad Mostashari, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) staff participated in the discussions.  The meeting was a follow-up to the December 12 meeting on the same topic, as well as (to a certain degree) to ACR’s October 12 meeting on radiology and MU.

The four stakeholder organizations reiterated the need for assistance for EPs who are located in community hospitals but are not “hospital-based” as defined by the EHR Incentive Program regulations.  These physicians are eligible for the program, and therefore open to future penalties for noncompliance, despite generally not having any influence over technology and data availability in the hospital(s) they service.

To help, the four stakeholder organizations have requested: 1)  more guidance from the agencies on hospital/practice collaboration; and, 2) creation of a significant hardship exemption option that could be applied for by hospital-located physicians who are not enabled by their facilities and/or circumstance to comply.  The significant hardship exemption mechanism is mandated by the existing statute, and CMS is expected to work on defining the options and processes in future rulemakings between now and 2015.  Unfortunately, the current statute also specifies limitations requiring EPs to apply annually for a maximum of five years if they wish to obtain the exemption.  Thus, without legislative intervention to remove the limitations, the significant hardship exemption can only be a temporary reprieve from the EHR Incentive Program penalties.

Later in the discussions, ACR and RBMA reiterated the need for patients’ imaging information to be included in electronic health records and part of MU.  MGMA also discussed the desire for a group compliance option as an alternative to individual-level MU compliance.

The CMS and ONC Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRMs) for Stage 2 MU are expected to be published for public comment sometime around February 2012.

Categories: EHR, meaningful use, Medicare

Public Data Set on Meaningful Use Attestations and the Certified EHR Technology Used

January 11, 2012 Leave a comment

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT (ONC) recently published public use data on healthdata.gov merging EHR Incentive Program attestations with the HIT products used.

At the time the most recent XLS report was compiled (November 2011), there were 22,961 total EP attestations (both Medicare and Medicaid) with 115 diagnostic radiologists, 45 radiation oncologists, and 18 interventional radiologists included in the data set.  Although de-identified, the data set is useful for seeing which HIT products EPs used to comply and if there are any trends by specialty, state, etc.

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