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ONC to meet with potential CCHIT alternatives

SEATTLE—Here’s a juicy rumor from the first day of the sixth annual Healthcare Unbound conference: the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is planning a July meeting with several people considering starting up certification bodies to compete with the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology.

I say it’s a rumor because I haven’t been able to confirm this information yet. It does make plenty of sense, though. ONC head Dr. David Blumenthal wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine back in March that “many certified EHRs are neither user-friendly nor designed to meet HITECH’s ambitious goal of improving quality and efficiency in the health care system.”

This does not mean that CCHIT will get frozen out of the certification process, just that it shouldn’t come as a surprise if the federal government recognizes more than one certifying entity.

June 22, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Answering the mail

I have to admit I’m shamefully behind on blogging this week. Between the AMA House of Delegates meeting, deadlines for FierceMobileHealthcare Tuesday and FierceEMR Thursday, plus a dentist’s appointment thrown in for good measure, I’ve been too busy or too tired to post here. I also submitted an entry for the BNET Healthcare blog, but it hasn’t been posted yet.

Meantime, I’ve left some people hanging.

While I was on the air with news anchor Andrea Darlas of WGN-AM 720 in Chicago to discuss President Obama’s speech to the AMA, I promised this link to a story about a high-schooler in Washington state who correctly diagnosed herself in science class with Crohn’s disease after doctors were stumped for years. Folks, this is why we need clinical decision support.

Fellow blogger Lodewijk Bos of the Im-Patient blog commented that he would like to see examples of the paranoia I observed at the AMA meeting. OK, but I have to link you to commentaries I wrote elsewhere, for FierceMobileHealthcare and FierceEMR. I humbly offer my “The audacity of ‘nope'” headline from the latter commentary for the Headline Hall of Fame.

Tonight, “Anonymous,” my biggest fan, left a comment asking where the proposed definition of meaningful use is. It’s right here, my friend. Actually, that page contains instructions on how to comment on the proposal. Scroll down for links to the preamble, a matrix of the proposed requirements and the CMS backgrounder on Medicare and Medicaid health IT provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

June 18, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

If you’re in Chicago …

I will be a guest on WGN Radio AM 720 in Chicago at approximately 12:10 p.m. CDT. today, shortly after President Obama’s speech to the American Medical Association concludes.

June 15, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

ONC confirms Tuesday release of ‘meaningful use’ proposal

CHICAGO—David R. Hunt, M.D., acting chief medical officer of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology just confirmed that HHS will indeed release tomorrow a proposed definition of “meaningful use.” That’s the standard by which healthcare organizations will qualify for health IT stimulus funding starting in 2011.

By the way, the official HHS Web site for health IT programs has moved to http://healthit.hhs.gov.

I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

N.J. bill would ban non-CCHIT EMRs

This is something I reported for the new FierceEMR last week: There’s a bill in the New Jersey legislature that would effectively ban the sale and use of health IT products that don’t carry CCHIT certification.

My story got picked up Friday by iHealthBeat, where it quickly became one of the top five most-viewed stories and No. 1 on the list of most e-mailed.

The story even drew a comment from CCHIT Chairman Mark Leavitt, who linked to a post on the commission’s blog. There, I learned from a commenter that the bill made it out of committee on a unanimous vote. That’s an ominous sign. If states start setting their own EMR rules, we’ll be left with 50 different systems of interoperability, few of which would actually interoperate with other. We will have wasted billions of taxpayer money on more silos.

If some of the paranoia about EMRs that I heard Sunday at the American Medical Association annual meeting really is representative of practicing physicians—and not just the protectionist Medical Establishment—this country is in trouble.

June 14, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

More on the eHealth Ontario scandal

If you’re interested in a more detailed report on the scandal at eHealth Ontario, I blogged about it last week for BNET.

I’m spending this sunny Sunday in a series of windowless rooms at the AMA annual meeting, and will have some reports on it tonight or tomorrow. Expect a healthy dose of cynicism.

I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

How doctors use Twitter

If you’ve kept up with this blog, you know that I’m still skeptical of Twitter. I don’t have an account and I don’t feel like getting one so I can follow others, largely because I am far enough behind on my e-mail and other reading without it. Others, though, are finding practical uses for the microblogging site.

The 33 Charts blog this week recently had a post about how physicians use Twitter. The author, Bryan Vartabedian, M.D., identifies five ways, only one of which is remotely related to patient care.

“So regarding Twitter and doctors, I wish its role was more dramatic. No matter how you use it, Twitter remains a great place to build relationships with people in your sphere of influence,” Vartabedian says.

Regarding Twitter and me, I still haven’t seen much evidence that it wouldn’t be a colossal waste of time.

June 12, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Politico cites Health Wonk Review

Politico Pulse, the health reform blog of D.C. insider publication Politico, has cited Health Wonk Review as its blog of the day. I’m a regular contributor to the biweekly HWR, but the credit needs to go to Julie Ferguson at Workers Comp Insider, Joe Paduda of Managed Care Matters and the other bloggers who host this rundown of opinions from the blogosphere.

June 8, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Scandal in Canada

A juicy scandal is brewing north of the border, as one-time whiz kid Sarah Kramer has been fired as CEO of eHealth Ontario, a provincial agency that is leading an effort to bring EHRs to everyone in the province of Ontario by 2015.

According to CBC News, Kramer has been accused of signing off on numerous no-bid contracts to friendly consultants and has come under fire for hefty expense reports.

Some political opponents also are calling for Kramer’s boss, Ontario Health Minister David Caplan, to resign.

For anyone wondering what it would take to put health IT on the front page, here’s your answer.

I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

FierceEMR debuts

In case you’re wondering why posts have been sporadic of late, I’ve been immersed in several deadlines. One of them was for the premiere issue of FierceEMR, the latest title from FierceMarkets. FierceEMR debuted today, and will be published weekly on Thursdays.

Check out the first stories, including some from a prototype issue I did last month, and sign up for a free e-mail subscription at the Web site.

June 4, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.