First HIPAA privacy fine stings
HIMSS convention delivers with hot IT topics
Dr. David Blumenthal, the outgoing head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, declared the dawn of “the age of meaningful use” in his keynote speech last week during the HIMSS 2011 national convention in Orlando, Fla.
Meeting meaningful-use requirements is a condition to receiving government IT incentive payments and it was a predominant topic at the show this year, which celebrated its 50th anniversary with a show-record 31,225 atten- try and come and be recognized, to try healthcare, and to try this audience and say, there may be people here we need to see.”
Still, the healthcare industry has many more items on its problem list, evidenced by the number of HIMSS educational sessions as well as thousands of products on display in the sprawling exhibit hall.
For example, accountable care organizations and patient-centered medical homes— what they are and how IT can help an organization prepare for a future involving both— ing funds for the startup of state health information exchanges, and working with the CMS to launch IT incentive programs under Medicare and Medicaid that could dole out an estimated $27 billion to providers who adopt and meaningfully use EHR systems.
The regional extension centers, created to provide doctors and hospitals with assistance in buying and installing EHRs, are enrolling 6,000 providers a week and have 47,000 signed up so far, Blumenthal said. The educational programs have 3,400 IT trainees due to graduate this spring, he said.
“Today, every state and territory has a health IT coordinator, and 35 states have implementation plans for health information exchange,” Blumenthal said. In addition, 21,300 providers have registered for incentive payments under Medicare and Medicaid while four states already have paid out $20 million in Medicaid IT incentive payments. Starting May 1, Medicare will begin paying meaningful users of EHRs, he said.
Work is under way developing Stage 2 meaningful-use criteria for use beginning in 2013, and a panel of privacy and security advisers is developing recommendations for national policies in those areas, he said.
“We are aware that the timetable for Stage 2 of meaningful use will be challenging,” he said, but ONC remains committed that Stage 2 goals “will be reasonable and achievable.”
Dr. Farzad Mostashari, deputy national coordinator for programs and policy at ONC, told several hundred physician informaticists and EHR pioneers at a pre-show symposium that they were part of the “vanguard” of meaningful users. Mostashari called on them to work in their communities with later adopters of technology “to pull the rest of the curve” toward them.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius also delivered an address, and she promised that despite “lots of disagreement” in Congress, health information technology “is one of those issues where Democrats and Republicans stand together.” She and her colleagues in the administration, she said, “believe in health IT because it’s an investment in a stronger economy.” President Barack Obama’s budget proposal includes a 25% increase for ONC operations, she said.
Typically, healthcare IT industry organizations squirrel away nuggets of news for release at the HIMSS show and 2011 was no exception, only this year, it was the government, not the private sector, that had the big news.
CMS Administrator Dr. Donald Berwick used his address on the final day of the show