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Is the National eHealth Collaborative still necessary?

I’ve been wondering the last few days if the National eHealth Collaborative still serves a useful purpose. This group, you may remember, is the private-sector outgrowth of the American Health Information Community, the public-private board set up by the Bush administration to advise the Department of Health and Human Services on various health IT issues.

The plan all along was to spin AHIC off into the private sector, and that happened in 2008. With the advent of the Obama administration, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 set up the Health IT Policy Committee and the Health IT Standards Committee as official advisory panels, consisting of leaders from both government and the private sector. And in the private sector, numerous groups, notably the eHealth Initiative, had been well established before NeHC came along.

Do we really need a group like NeHC? For that matter, the eHealth Initiative seems less relevant than it was, say 3-4 years ago.

February 7, 2011 I Written By

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

AHIC Successor now National eHealth Collaborative—sans nurses

The group once known informally as AHIC 2.0 and later AHIC Successor finally has a name of its own: the National eHealth Collaborative. This completes the privatization of the American Health Information Community (AHIC), a public-private advisory board to the secretary of Health & Human Services.

Leadership positions for 2009 remain as announced a month ago:

Other board members include:

The panel also includes three federal liaisons, National HIT Coordinator Robert Kolodner, M.D., and representatives of the HHS and VA secretaries. Obviously, the latter two will change on Jan. 20.

That seems like a pretty impressive roster, but remember the controversy about the Google Health Advisory Council a year and a half ago? The Internet giant came under fire for not including any nurses, medical librarians and even radiologists. While it’s nice to see a behavioral health specialist on the National eHealth Collaborative, there are no nurses or medical librarians anywhere to be found here, either. I didn’t bother to look up the specialties of the many doctors on this panel, but isn’t it incongruous to overlook nurses and librarians?

For what it’s worth, several board members were to meet today with the Obama transition team. Perhaps someone has an inkling of who might be appointed to head CMS or the Veterans Health Administration? That’s what I’m waiting for.

UPDATE, Jan 11: I’ve just been informed that nurses are in fact on this board. I’m told that Laura Adams is a nurse, though her bio does not seem to reflect that. Also, Linda Fischetti, who I know is an RN, is the non-voting liaison to NeHC from the VA. Still, it does seem like nursing might be a little under-represented, given the field’s overall importance in healthcare.

January 9, 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.

Get on board

Is it me, or is this the week for changing organizational boards?

Actually, not all the board news was about new members, nor did some of the changes just happen, but I seem to be getting a bunch of announcements or application solicitations this week.

Today, HIMSS announced that its new elected officers and board members took office July 1. Yes, the announcement was dated today:

Advancing the Adoption of Health IT, New HIMSS Board Members Take Office
Chuck Christian and Liz Johnson assume top positions on Board of Directors for the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society

CHICAGO (July 23, 2008) – Focused on improving the delivery of patient care through health IT and management systems, new officers and elected members of the HIMSS Board of Directors took office on July 1.

Charles E. Christian, FCHIME, FHIMSS, and Liz Johnson, RN, MSN, FHIMSS, began their terms as chair and vice chair, respectively. They replace Chair John Wade, FCHIME, FHIMSS, and Vice Chair Victoria Bradley, DNP, RN, CPHIMS, FHIMSS.

HIMSS Board Chair: Mr. Christian is the director of information systems and CIO of Good Samaritan Hospital, a 100-year-old, free-standing acute care community hospital in southwest Indiana. He is serving his 19th year in this role and his 37th year in healthcare.

HIMSS Board Vice Chair: Ms. Johnson is vice president of applied clinical informatics for Tenet HealthSystem. She is responsible for the strategic vision and the tactical plan for all clinical systems used throughout Tenet’s 57 provider organizations. Under her leadership, Tenet has developed and is implementing a comprehensive clinical informatics vision and strategy. Ms. Johnson speaks nationally and internationally on clinical applications and their strategic use as a tool for enhanced patient safety.

Chair-Elect and Vice Chair-Elect: In recent elections by the board, Barry Chaiken, MD, MPH, FHIMSS, was selected as chair-elect, and Ms. Johnson was reelected as vice chair-elect.

Dr. Chaiken has more than 20 years of experience in medical research, continuous quality improvement, risk management and patient safety. As founder of his own company, he worked on quality improvement studies and clinical investigations for the National Institutes of Health, the Framingham Heart Study, and Boston University Medical School. Dr. Chaiken is board certified in General Preventive Medicine and Public Health as well as Health Care Quality Management.

New Board Members: Four new board members began their three-year terms on July 1.

David S. Finn is vice president and CIO/privacy and information security officer at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. Holly D. Miller, MD, MBA, FHIMSS, is the vice president and CMIO at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio. Carol R. Selvey, MHSA, FHIMSS, is principal of The Revere Group, headquartered in Chicago. Charlene S. Underwood, MBA, FHIMSS, is director of government and industry affairs at Siemens Medical Solutions in Malvern, Pa.

New Nominating Committee Members: The following individuals began their two-year term on the Nominating Committee: Kathleen Covert Kimmel, RN, MHA, CHE, FHIMSS, vice president, nursing informatics, McKesson, Louisville, Colo.; Donald Levick, MD, MBA, CPHIMS, physician liaison, information services, Lehigh Valley Hospital, Allentown, Pa.; and Janet K. Stanek, FACHE-designate, RHIA, CPHIMS, FHIMSS, vice president, support services, and CIO, Stormont-Vail Healthcare, Topeka, Kan.

New Advisory Board Members: Two individuals began their terms on the Advisory Board: Michael J. McGill, PhD, Internet2, Health Sciences; Howard A. Burde, Esq., Blank Rome LLP.

et al.

The HIMSS Electronic Health Records Vendors Association also recently seated a new board. Justin Barnes, vice president of marketing and government affairs at Greenway Medical Technologies is now chairman, while Andy Ury M.D., Seattle-based chief medical officer of McKesson Physician Practice Solutions, is vice chairman.

The immediate past chair of the EHRVA, Don Schoen, CEO and president of MediNotes, was elected to the group’s executive committee. Others chosen for the committee include: Charlie Jarvis, assistant VP for healthcare industry services and legislative affairs at NextGen Healthcare Information Systems; Michele McGlynn, strategic manager in government and industry affairs for Siemens Medical Solutions; Charles Parisot, manager for architecture and standards at GE Healthcare; Rick Reeves, R.Ph., senior clinical manager of corporate development at Computer Programs and Systems Inc. (CPSI) in Mobile, Ala.; and Steve Tolle, Phoenix-based VP of product management for Allscripts.

Meanwhile, the AHIC Successor search team announced it was soliciting nominations for the board of the private-sector successor organization to the American Health Information Community panel that advises the secretary of Health and Human Services.

Nominations are being accepted through Aug. 4 at note, former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Mark McClellan, M.D., in his current role as director of the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform at the Brookings Institution, is leading the effort to establish the AHIC Successor.

July 23, 2008 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: Dr. Robert Kolodner on the national HIT strategy

I love the annual Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems (AMDIS) Physician-Computer Connection. It’s a chance to hear some of the smartest and most accomplished people in healthcare, namely medical informaticists, in a small, informal setting. This year’s event, held last week in beautiful, laid-back Ojai, Calif., featured an appearance by Robert Kolodner, M.D., the national coordinator for health information technology.

After Dr. Kolodner’s presentation—more of a Q&A with his peers in medical informatics—he graciously sat down for an audio interview with me. Here is the result.

Podcast details: Robert Kolodner, M.D., on the national health IT strategy. Recorded July 16, 2008, in Ojai, Calif. MP3, stereo, 64 kbps, 14.3 MB, running time 31:24.

0:40 Background on
national health IT strategic plan toward interoperable electronic health records
3:35 Goals of the plan
4:08 Distinction between “health” and “healthcare”
5:25 Explanation of “patient centeredness”
6:20 Physicians’ role in promoting patient centeredness
7:30 IT’s role
8:50 Population health
10:40 Why physicians should care about national IT strategy
12:55 Making the issue personal
13:35 Financial incentives for technology adoption
14:37 Incremental advances
16:18 Medicare e-prescribing incentives as one step in a series of improvements
17:30 Convincing healthcare organizations to cooperate
18:08 Greater public awareness about electronic health information
18:32 Privacy and security concerns, and coming framework
20:50 Convincing doctors to share data
22:10 Trial National Health Implementation Network implementations
22:55 Where physician IT leaders can make a difference
AHIC successor
25:25 Complexity of healthcare in the U.S. and abroad
27:18 Profound workflow changes from IT and maximizing skills of healthcare professionals
29:06 Possible effects of 2009 administration change
30:15 Health IT’s fundamental role in healthcare reform

July 22, 2008 I Written By

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

Pre-HIMSS scuttlebutt

ORLANDO, Fla.—Congress, are you listening? Steroids have hit health IT.

National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Robert Kolodner, M.D., admitted to me this morning that he’s juicing. He even showed me the pills, surreptitiously hidden in the inside pocket of his suit jacket.

Yeah, so what if he had a prescription, and he was using the ’roids to cure his laryngitis before he has to deliver a keynote address Tuesday morning to thousands of HIMSS conference attendees? If other media can hype steroid use in baseball, why can’t I do it in health IT?

One person I mentioned this to today said he would support the use of performance-enhancing substances for anyone promoting greater adoption of health IT. So I guess the consensus is to take the Bud Selig approach and look the other way as long as it’s for the good of the game.

(Full disclosure: I took prednisone last year to treat a rash that resulted from an allergic reaction to the antibiotic Bactrim. I guess that makes me a juicer, too.)

Keep reading, I’ve got all the pre-HIMSS dirt right here.

Peter Basch, M.D., medical director for eHealth at MedStar Health in Washington, D.C., is the HIMSS physician of the year, and will be honored at the HIMSS Awards Dinner on Tuesday.. The Davies Award winners have been public for several months, and I don’t have word on other award winners.

The HIMSS partnership with the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems has produced data showing that an increasing number of chief medical information officers are reporting to executives other than chief information officers, often the CMO, CFO or even CEO.

E-prescribing vendor DrFirst is remaining independent, but has agreed to add Meditech to its roster of EHR partners it promotes to e-prescribing customers.

News of Google’s long-awaited health product got out last week, so it’s widely known the Cleveland Clinic will test a personal health record with 1,500 to 10,000 patients. (The leak, of course, came from the Cleveland Clinic, and not from tight-lipped Google.) However, I have learned that the public launch of the product likely will come near the end of the first quarter. Google CEO Eric Schmidt likely will make it official when he delivers a keynote here on Thursday morning.

Note to skeptics: I have learned that Patient Privacy Rights Foundation founder Deborah Peel, M.D., has not been paid by Microsoft to tout the privacy benefits of HealthVault. I understand that the only financial gain she will receive is from the fee Microsoft will pay her organization to certify HealthVault against privacy standards Peel is developing.

The annual, midyear HIMSS Summit will run concurrently with National Health IT Week this year, in Washington, D.C. The summit is set for June 9-10. HIMSS Advocacy Day will take place June 11 on Capitol Hill. The week ends with the seventh-annual Center for Information Therapy conference on June 12-13. I believe this is the first time the Ix conference has been held anywhere besides Park City, Utah.

Also, if you aren’t registered for HIMSS, you still can participate in several public meetings here staged by the federal government:

American Health Information Community meeting, Tuesday, 10 am to 4 p.m.
Establishing the AHIC Successor, Tuesday, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
HIT Terms Project: Network Workgroup Public Forum, Tuesday, 4 to 6 p.m.
HIT Terms Project: Records Workgroup Public Forum, Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

All times are Eastern, and all meetings take place in the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Fla.

February 24, 2008 I Written By

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

Year-end thoughts

Ah, another long delay between posts. Some people blog for fun. When you write for a living, you do other stuff when you need to take a break. Like sleep in or watch too much TV.

I have just a couple of things to say before the end of the year. So here goes.

Everyone’s offering a personal health record. Few are using them. I’ve written about that plenty this year. I’m now declaring a personal moratorium on PHR stories until someone gives me evidence that patients and physicians are actually using PHRs. There, I said it. Hopefully I’ve just saved myself from a dozen more HIMSS meeting requests. But not likely.

Secondly, I thought it was remarkable that HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt wrote to members of Congress, asking that any legislation to address the 10 percent Medicare fee cut for 2008 include incentives for EHRs and give CMS the authority to require e-prescribing in the future. Could it be that a the Bush administration was asking Congress for something close to a mandate? Not exactly, but it sure got my attention. (Unfortunately, I could not find a copy of it online, but I have a paper copy around here somewhere that perhaps I’ll scan and post as soon as I find it.)

As it turned out, the impetus for the letter came from the American Health Information Community, as detailed in my Digital HealthCare & Productivity story from a couple weeks ago. I had an interview with AHIC member Lillee Gelinas, chief nursing officer of VHA, who gave me a nice play-by-play of the surprisingly quick process.

And as it turned out, the letter didn’t do much on Capitol Hill. Congress postponed the Medicare day of reckoning for six months, offering yet another year-end Medicare Band-Aid and setting up the possibility of a midyear Band-Aid next summer. That legislation didn’t have any health IT provisions, which isn’t surprising, given that Congress already has denied a funding increase for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology in 2008.

Is it me, or did 2007 actually mark a regression in health IT on the federal level?

I’ve observed that Washington seems to gather the political will for serious Medicare reform about once a decade, and it already happened this decade, with the 2003 Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act. Meanwhile, 2008 is a presidential election year, so don’t expect any major revisions to the Medicare payment structure next year either. That means there won’t be any incentive money for EHRs beyond the small-scale demonstration projects already in place, as authorized by the 2003 MMA.

Pessimistic? Perhaps. Realistic? I think so.

Health IT might get some lip service in the presidential campaign, but as I wrote in November, it hasn’t been a top-tier issue for the candidates.

As I post this entry, I see that the odometer has just turned over to 30,000 visitors to this site since I started tracking more than three years ago. Thanks for reading, and happy new year.

December 27, 2007 I Written By

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

Scoop: AMIA’s 10×10 going global

CHICAGO—This is just a quick post to draw your attention to a story posted on Digital Healthcare & Productivity this morning: The American Medical Informatics Association is expanding its 10×10 program internationally, with the goal of training 20,000 informatics professionals outside the U.S. by 2020.

AMIA chief Dr. Don Detmer will make the announcement during his annual “state of the association” speech at 12:30 pm CST today. But you heard it here (or at DHCP) first.

Also coming in today’s DHCP newsletter is news from today’s American Health Information Community meeting here in Chicago that the Federal Communications Commission will award $400 million in grants over the next three years to connect small and rural healthcare facilities in 42 states and three territories.

November 13, 2007 I Written By

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