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HIMSS, Continua launch Personal Connected Health Alliance

ORLANDO, Fla.—As HIMSS President and CEO hinted at yesterday in his podcast with me, HIMSS today announced the formation of the Personal Connected Health Alliance, in conjunction with the Continua Health Alliance and the HIMSS-owned mHealth Summit.

This short video from HIMSS explains:

Also, Lieber mentioned that HIMSS has not signed on to a letter from 48 organizations—led by CHIME—to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, calling for more time and flexibility in meeting Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements., Lieber said HIMSS declined to sign because the requests were, in his opinion, “very vague.”

Today, the letter, dated Feb. 21, was made public:

February 21, 2014
The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius
Secretary
Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20201

Dear Secretary Sebelius:

The undersigned organizations write to express immediate concerns confronting our respective members’ ability to comply with the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program. We recognize the vital role your department has taken in advancing the adoption of health information technology in the United States and appreciate your willingness to be flexible in extending the start of Stage 3 to 2017. We fear the success of the program is in jeopardy, however, if steps are not taken now to address our shared concerns.

Over the next seven months, more than 5,000 hospitals and 550,000 eligible professionals must adopt the 2014 Edition of Certified Electronic Health Record Technology (CEHRT) and meet a higher threshold of Meaningful Use criteria. Failure to do so will not only result in a loss of incentive payments, but also the imposition of significant penalties. With only a fraction of 2011 Edition products currently certified to 2014 Edition standards, it is clear the pace and scope of change have outstripped the ability of vendors to support providers. This inhibits the ability of providers to manage the transition to the 2014 Edition CEHRT and Stage 2 in a safe and orderly manner.

We are concerned this dynamic will cause providers to either abandon the possibility of meeting Meaningful Use criteria in 2014 or be forced to implement a system much more rapidly than would otherwise be the case. The first choice limits the success of the program to achieve widespread adoption of EHR, while the second is highly disruptive to healthcare operations and could jeopardize patient safety. As you know, our members’ number one priority must be to provide safe and high quality care to patients.

Providers need adequate time to learn how to use the newly deployed technology, including examining staff assignments, workflows, and practice processes. If providers move forward, as dictated by the current policy, our concerns regarding rushed implementations are heightened. Furthermore, we believe the “all or nothing” approach – where missing a single objective by even a small amount results in failure for the program year – compounds our concerns.

For these reasons, our organizations strongly recommend that HHS:
1. Extend the timelines providers have to implement 2014 Edition Certified EHR software and meet the Program requirements (Stages 1 and 2) through 2015;
2. Add flexibility in Meaningful Use requirements to permit as many providers as possible to achieve success in the program.

Given that we are well into 2014, immediate attention to these concerns is warranted. This additional time and new flexibility are vitally important to ensure that hospitals and physicians continue moving forward with technology to improve patient care. By making such changes, HHS would be demonstrating needed flexibility to maximize program success, without compromising momentum towards interoperability and care coordination supported by health IT.

We remain committed to the success of the program and look forward to hearing from you on this important matter. Please contact Jeffery Smith, Senior Director of Federal Affairs, CHIME, (jsmith@cio-chime.org) should you have any questions. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

AMDA-Dedicated to Long Term Care Medicine
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
American Academy of Dermatology Association
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Home Care Medicine
American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
American Academy of Neurology
American Academy of Ophthalmology
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
American Association of Neurological Surgeons / Congress of Neurological Surgeons
American College of Cardiology
American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians
American College of Osteopathic Internists
American College of Osteopathic Surgeons
American College of Physicians
American College of Radiology
American College of Rheumatology
American College of Surgeons
American Health Information Management Association
American Hospital Association
American Medical Association
American Osteopathic Academy of Orthopedics
American Osteopathic Association
American Psychiatric Association
American Society for Clinical Pathology
American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
American Society for Radiation Oncology
American Society of Anesthesiologists
American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery
American Society of Hematology
American Urological Association
America’s Essential Hospitals
Association of American Medical Colleges
Catholic Health Association of the United States
Children’s Hospital Association
College of Healthcare Information Management Executives
Federation of American Hospitals
Heart Rhythm Society
Infectious Diseases Society of America
Medical Group Management Association
National Rural Health Association
North American Spine Society
Premier healthcare alliance
Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions
Society of Thoracic Surgeons
The Endocrine Society
VHA Inc.

Yes, that is kind of vague, but that’s what you get when you involve four dozen organizations. Will it be effective? As I mentioned yesterday, ONC Chief Medical Officer Jacob Reider, M.D., hinted that there will be news about Stage 2 flexibility, likely Thursday morning at a joint ONC-CMS town hall. Reider made that statement at the CIO Forum, hosted by CHIME.

 

 

February 24, 2014 I Written By

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

Late news, literally: A new national HIT coordinator

Karen DeSalvo, M.D.

 

I’m a little late to the party reporting on the naming of a new national health IT coordinator, Karen DeSalvo, M.D. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced DeSalvo’s appointment on Dec. 19, two days after I boarded a plane out of the country for a much-needed vacation. I vowed not to respond to any work-related e-mail while away, and I stayed true to my word, so now I play catch-up.

I honestly know nothing of DeSalvo’s work as health commissioner of the City of New Orleans and senior health policy advisor to Mayor Mitchell Landrieu, even though I visited New Orleans twice in the early rebuilding stages after Hurricane Katrina in 2006 and 2007 to report on the state of the healthcare infrastructure. At the time, Ray Nagin was mayor, though Landrieu was Louisiana lieutenant gove

rnor and his sister, Mary, was and still is a U.S. senator representing the Pelican State.

During my visits, I met with several state and local healthcare officials, but never came across DeSalvo. She is the first national coordinator I did not know prior to taking over ONC, so I guess I’ll be doing some catch-up. From her biography, I see her background is in public health, much like her predecessor, Farzad Mostashari, M.D. That signals to me that there will be a continued strong focus on using IT to improve population health, one of the original 2004 goals of the first national coordinator, David Brailer, M.D.

While Stage 1 of Meaningful Use has been about installing EHRs, we should start to see connectivity and interoperability to help manage populations in Stage 2, which is just getting started, with an eye toward producing measurable outcomes in Stage 3, which probably won’t begin before 2017.

DeSalvo remains in New Orleans at the moment. She takes over at ONC Jan. 13. Acting national coordinator Jacob Reider, M.D., will go back to being ONC’s chief medical officer.

December 30, 2013 I Written By

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

Breaking news: Mostashari to leave ONC

National health IT coordinator Dr. Farzad Mostashari will leave the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at an unspecified time this fall.

From Twitter:


Government Health IT reports this morning that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius broke the news in a letter to agency staff.

“During this time of great accomplishment, Farzad has been an important advisor to me and many of us across the Department. His expertise, enthusiasm and commitment to innovation and health IT will surely be missed,” Sebelius wrote, according to Government Health IT. “In the short term, he will continue to serve in this role while a search is underway for a replacement.”

The fourth national coordinator since the position was created in 2004, Mostashari has been in his current job since April 2011. Prior to joining ONC in 2009, he led the Primary Care Information Project for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

UPDATE, 10:46 am CDT: I have the full memo from Sebelius.

Hello Colleagues,

I am writing to share the news that Dr. Farzad Mostashari has advised me he will be stepping down as National Coordinator for Health Information Technology this fall.

Farzad has been a leader in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) for the last four years.  Farzad joined the office in 2009 as Principal Deputy National Coordinator and took over as the National Coordinator in 2011.  During his tenure, ONC has been at the forefront of designing and implementing a number of initiatives to promote the adoption of health IT among health care providers.  Farzad has seen through the successful design and implementation of ONC’s HITECH programs, which provide health IT training and guidance to communities and providers; linked the meaningful use of electronic health records to population health goals; and laid a strong foundation for increasing the interoperability of health records—all while ensuring the ultimate focus remains on patients and their families.  This critical work has not only brought about important improvements in the business of health care, but also has helped providers better coordinate care, which can improve patients’ health while saving money at the same time.

During this time of great accomplishment, Farzad has been an important advisor to me and many of us across the Department.  His expertise, enthusiasm and commitment to innovation and health IT will surely be  missed.  In the short term, he will continue to serve in this role while a search is underway for a replacement. Please join me in wishing Farzad all the best in his future endeavors.

Kathleen Sebelius

 

 

August 6, 2013 I Written By

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

Podcast: HIMSS CEO Steve Lieber previews HIMSS12

I’m about to head to the airport for my flight to Las Vegas and HIMSS12. As has become customary before each year’s HIMSS conference, I sat down with H. Stephen Lieber, CEO of HIMSS, this past week to discuss the state of health IT and what to expect at the big event.

The timing of this interview was interesting. We spoke Wednesday morning at the new HIMSS office in downtown Chicago, one day after CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner told a gathering of American Medical Association leaders that federal officials were re-examining the Oct. 1, 2013, deadline for adopting ICD-10 coding, and one day before HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made it official that there would be a delay.

Also one day after this interview, HIMSS announced that it has taken over the mHealth Summit from the Foundation of the National Institutes of Health. While Lieber talked extensively about mobile healthcare, he gave no hint that this news was coming.

Meanwhile, the whole health IT universe had been expecting HHS to release its proposed rules for Stage 2 of “meaningful use” of electronic health records this past week. That didn’t happen. Monday is a federal holiday, so I don’t think we will hear anything until at least Tuesday, which, coincidentally, happens to be the first day of the HIMSS conference. As if we don’t have enough to keep us occupied in the next few days.

The recording is a little fuzzy. I’m not really sure what created the echo and the background noise, since we were in a dedicated interview room, one of the nice features at the new HIMSS digs. Radio interference perhaps? That happened to me a couple years ago in the old HIMSS office on East Ohio Street. Just pretend you’re listening on AM radio or something.

Podcast details: Interview with HIMSS CEO Steve Lieber, February 15, 2012. MP3, stereo, 128 kbps, 31.9 MB, running time 34:51.

1:00 Logistics of HIMSS12 in Las Vegas after the venue change
2:00 Why the Venetian-Palazzo-Sands might work better than the Las Vegas Convention Center
2:55 Why the conference starts on Tuesday this year
3:25 Massive scale of the conference
5:25 Return of Cerner and Meditech and some first-time exhibitors
7:45 mHIMSS and HIT X.0
10:15 Twitter co-founder Biz Stone keynoting and the state of social media in healthcare
12:00 Accountable care and realignment of incentives
14:15 What might be in proposed rule for Stage 2 of meaningful use
17:20 Preview of HIMSS survey of hospital readiness for meaningful use
20:30 ICD-10 readiness
25:00 Greater public awareness of health IT but continuing difficulties in communicating the finer points of healthcare reform
27:50 Mobile healthcare
31:25 The growing importance of clinical analytics

February 18, 2012 I Written By

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

Health Wonk Review: Campaign 2012

This week’s Health Wonk Review, hosted by Louise Norris of Colorado Health Insurance Insider, takes a theme of Campaign 2012, rather scary, given that primary season has just started, IMHO. My recent post about the two sides of GOP candidate Newt Gingrich and the reluctance of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to discuss health reform beyond the insurance aspects is part of this rundown. It also apparently puts me in the running for Wonkiest Health Wonk of 2012—but, again, there is a long way to go.

I hope this is just the start of my campaign to get people to understand that health insurance is not healthcare and that having good insurance doesn’t mean you will get good care. It’s an uphill battle and I’m certainly not the best-funded candidate, but I’m in it for the long haul.

February 3, 2012 I Written By

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

Gingrich on EHRs in the 2009 stimulus

I don’t like to get political on this blog, but I’ve been thinking a lot about how the Newt Gingrich we’ve seen on the campaign trail of late is quite different from the Newt Gingrich who was a tireless advocate for health IT and EHRs from about 2004 to 2009.

Lately, Gingrich has, as primary candidates are wont to do, been pandering toward the more ideologically pure elements of his party, not addressing the center, as will be necessary during a general election. Notably, Gingrich has jumped on the “repeal Obamacare” bandwagon, essentially making the ridiculous argument that America does not need healthcare reform. That’s interesting, because Gingrich, after he left Congress, founded the Center for Health Transformation to push for technology-enabled health system improvement.

Back in 2004, Gingrich joined with strange bedfellow Hillary Clinton to advocate for a national, government-funded strategy to support adoption of health IT. That idea eventually morphed into the HITECH Act section of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus legislation. Gingrich, like most Republicans, opposed the bulk of the stimulus, but he was an ardent supporter of HITECH. Here’s the proof: Read more..

January 29, 2012 I Written By

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

Video from Sebelius on ‘The Daily Show’

As promised, here’s the video from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ appearance on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” Wednesday night. Yeah, she and other pols have been all over the airwaves of late, but I find that a “fake” news anchor like Jon Stewart often keeps people more honest than the average TV talking head.

In the first segment, Sebelius discusses the “public option” for health insurance and touches on quality of care and outcomes, to which Stewart says it would be cheaper for society if smokers died by age 60. In Part 2, which focuses on competing health reform bills in Congress, Sebelius mentions prevention, wellness and quality. It’s not very revelatory for those of us in the know, but it’s entertaining.

Part 1

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Kathleen Sebelius Pt. 1
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Joke of the Day

Part 2

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Kathleen Sebelius Pt. 2
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Joke of the Day

On the much lighter side, earlier segments of last night’s show parodied national health systems in Canada and the UK and the uninsured situation in the U.S.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Drag Me to Health
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Joke of the Day

and

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Drag Me to Health – Universal Health Care
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Joke of the Day
July 16, 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.

Sebelius on ‘The Daily Show’

FYI, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is the guest on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” tonight. In fact, the whole episode is dedicated to health reform. I’ll embed the video once it’s posted on Thursday, but you can still catch it tonight. There will be a rerun at 1:30 am EDT/12:30 am CDT and those of you out west can catch the first run at 11 pm PDT.

July 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.

Breaking news: Sebelius confirmed as HHS secretary

The Senate today confirmed Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of Health and Human Services, on Barack Obama’s 99th day as president. Sebelius, who was sworn in this evening, is the last member of Obama’s Cabinet to win confirmation, and it’s not a moment too soon, as someone has to deal with the outbreak of swine flu that has some people panicked.

Here is what Reuters had to say.

Now that we have an HHS secretary, we need people to head all the department’s agencies. Stay tuned.

April 28, 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.

Sebelius has tax issues, too

When Kathleen Sebelius was nominated to be secretary of Health and Human Services a month ago, I snidely remarked that I hope she’s current on her taxes. That’s the issue that derailed the nomination of President Obama’s first choice for HHS, Tom Daschle.

Someone left a comment on that post just a few minutes ago about that hope being deflated. I checked, and sure enough, there’s a story this evening about Sebelius having to pay back taxes.

Mr. President, please pick me for a top spot in your administration. I’d like to under-report my own income, too. While you’re at it, get us an HHS secretary and perhaps a CMS administrator, stat. Someone needs to parcel out that $19.2 billion in health IT stimulus money, and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology only has control over $2 billion of that. Get going and stimulate the economy.

March 31, 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.