Federal and State Government News Update


Edition Fifty-Nine (12/14/10)

Health Information Exchanges' Tech Challenges
InformationWeek, 12/11/10
The nation's health care providers are digitizing loads of information about their patients, but all this effort will be of limited use if the data can't be shared easily and securely. Enter HIEs.

Most Docs Using at Least Partial EHR: CDC
Modern Healthcare, subscription required 12/10/10
Adoption of HIT is growing among office-based physicians, according to preliminary results of a survey released by the CDC. More than half of physicians reported using at least a partial EHR system in their practices. This figure is up slightly from 48.3% of physicians in 2009. 

Most Electronic Health Records Users Cannot Meet Meaningful Use Deadline
PR Web, 12/10/10
Despite the technology's escalating adoption rate, only one in ten users foresees achieving ARRA requirements for stimulus funding by this spring. According to the 2011 Black Book Ranking's user survey, about ninety percent of health care providers who purchased EMR technology are off track to meet their Meaningful Use implementation goals.

Beacons Ready Technical, Health Tools for Model Projects
Government Health IT, 12/9/10
ONC is establishing several “communities of practice” to help its Beacon program establish clinical decision support technologies, care transitions programs, and pharmacy solutions and tools in their health care improvement projects. It’s one of several steps taken as the regional model projects put together the health I.T. structure necessary for improvements and plan the core interventions which will be introduced in each community starting in 2011.

New Federal Reports Provide Guidance on EHR Usability
MedHealth World, 12/9/10
To help developers and vendors improve the usability of EHRs, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released two publications on EHR design processes and usability testing. The first publication, NIST Guide to the Processes Approach for Improving the Usability of EHRs provides guidance on employing "user-centered-design" processes throughout an EHR product life cycle. The second, Customized Common Industry Format Template for EHR Usability Testing, provides a standard reporting format for testing EHR systems. 

New Look at HIE May Change Meaningful Use
Health Data Management, 12/9/10
ONC is seeking public comment on a call from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology to rapidly revamp how health information is exchanged. In particular, ONC seeks comment on how a quick transition in HIE policies and technologies would affect Stage 2 Meaningful Use criteria.

CPOEs Can Decrease Mortality Rates, Research Shows
HealthLeaders, 12/9/10
Researchers have shown a significant decrease in hospital-wide ­mortality rates can be associated with implementing a CPOE system which enables physicians and other medical staff to order medications, tests, and other treatments electronically. If configured properly, the systems can also provide decision support at the point of care.

White House Group Pushes XML for Health I.T.
PC World, 12/8/10
The U.S. government can spur the adoption of health I.T. by promoting open standards and XML, a new report from a group of presidential advisers recommends. ONC and the CMS should develop guidelines for the exchange language, which could integrate with existing EHRs, said the report, from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).

ONC Readies Evaluation of I.T. Training
Health Data Management, 12/8/10
ONC will conduct a series of surveys and focus groups to evaluate new programs at community colleges to train HIT professionals through intensive courses lasting up to six months. The goal of the community college courses, along with 12-month courses at several universities, is to reduce an expected health I.T. workforce shortage of 50,000 by 85 percent.

Confidence in Meaningful Use Readiness Plunges: CHIME
Modern Healthcare, subscription required 12/8/10
The percentage of CIOs who are confident their organizations will qualify by April 2011 for federal incentive payments for the purchase of EHR systems plunged to 15%, down by nearly one-half from 28% of responding CIOs in a similar survey released in August, according to CHIME.

Survey: Reform Law Requires More Trust Between Docs and Hospitals 
The Hill's Healthwatch, 12/7/10
The successful implementation of the new health care reform law will hinge on physicians and hospitals working out trust issues with one another, according to a new survey. The reform law requires increased collaboration and information sharing between physicians and hospitals, including through new ACO arrangements, to reduce costs and increase quality. 

CMS Updates Measures for ED Patients
CMIO, 12/7/10
The CMS has updated a FAQ regarding Meaningful Use eligibility and inpatients admitted through the ED. According to the update, there are now two methods for calculating ED admissions for the denominators for measures associated with Stage 1.

Health Record Providers Take Aim at Privacy Concerns
Modern Healthcare, subscription required 12/6/10 
The main federal privacy law covering electronic patient records which are held by health care providers may be perceived as more stringent than the laws and rules regulating personal health-record systems, but the privacy practices of some PHR providers are far more patient-controlled and thus, protective, according to panelists at a recent daylong public hearing on PHR privacy and security.

HHS Calls for On-line Apps Competition to Help Meet Health Goals
Government Health IT, 12/2/10
As part of its new roadmap to improve health care quality, the Health & Human Services Department has challenged developers to create applications for professionals who are working on national health objectives and with state and community data. HHS detailed the “myHealthyPeople” challenge as a part of its Healthy People 2020, the nation’s next set of 10-year goals and objectives for health promotion and disease prevention, which it unveiled Dec. 2.

HIMSS Analytics: Integration Lags at Many Facilities
Cardiovascular Business, 12/1/10
Use of medical devices is widespread among U.S. hospitals, however, only a third of these hospitals are integrating data from such devices with their EMR.

Vendors and Direct Project Discuss Concepts for Secure “Push” Messaging
Government Health IT, 12/1/10
With the initial model for the Direct Project, a streamlined version of the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN), decided a standards committee has been evaluating how well it stacks up technically against other point-to-point data exchange methods. The Direct Project, the new name for the old NHIN Direct, is a set of technical tools and services which will enable physicians and small practices to exchange secure messages in a one-to-one “push” with other providers and labs through the Internet.

EHR Certification Final Rule Up for Review
HealthLeaders, 12/1/10
ONC sent a final rule to establish a permanent certification program for EHR technology to the Office for Management and Budget (OMB). While there is no legislative deadline for the release of the rule, at the time the temporary certification program was finalized in June, ONC indicated it expected to publish the final rule for the permanent program this fall.

South Dakota Awards Tech Grants for Rural Hospitals
Modern Healthcare, subscription required 12/10/10
South Dakota has awarded more than $235,000 in technology grants to rural critical-access hospitals, which will help those hospitals purchase a variety of technological systems and tools, including automated medication dispensing systems, telemedicine equipment, and digital fetal monitors.

$10M Awarded to HealtheLink
Buffalo Business News, 12/6/10
HealtheLink will develop a new clinical data exchange focusing on child health and chronic disease with a new $10 million New York state grant. The funds from the state Department of Health will allow the nonprofit organization to develop implement a clinical data exchange for public health focusing on child immunization and newborn screening, as well as chronic disease with a focus on cancer. The grant is funded through phase 17 of the Health Care Efficiency and Affordability Law of New York State (HEAL NY) program.

ONC to Fund State HIE Breakthrough Pilots
Government Health IT, 12/6/10
ONC is providing grants to states in order to fund HIE breakthroughs in five challenging areas which will promote sharing of patient records nationwide. The grants will fund pilots in 10 states and supplement what they have already received for creation of their statewide HIEs. The Health Information Exchange Challenge Program will help states make progress in areas which are considered critical but difficult to advance interoperability. 

Info Exchanges Need to Prove Their Worth: Pa. e-Health Group
Modern Healthcare, subscription required 12/6/10
Medicaid programs, commercial health plans and the major organizations leading integrated delivery networks all can play a role in financing HIEs, according to a white paper released by the Pennsylvania eHealth Initiative. However, the paper's authors noted, information-exchange projects need to better explain the benefits of participation to stakeholder groups, and "the perceived value from the HIEs must be greater to or equal to their financial contribution" for the projects to be successful.

Doctors' Officers Can Use Grant for Electronic Records
The Day, 11/30/10
Twenty-five physicians' offices around Connecticut will receive assistance through a $100,000 grant to fully implement EHRs and become nationally accredited as patient-centered medical homes. The medical society received the grant from The Physicians Foundation, a national organization, and will administer the grant. The 25 physicians' offices will mainly be primary care providers, according to a news release from the medical society.

Military Targets Smart Phones and Tablets for EHR Apps
Government Health IT, 12/10/10
The U.S. military's tactical EHR applications could become available on commercial mobile devices, if testing by the Army proves successful. Ongoing tests are running the applications on the iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, Sprint's HTC EVO, and the Samsung Epic. 

Social Media Tools May Reduce Attrition in On-line Health Programs
Healthcare IT News, 12/7/10
Social media tools may prove an effective way to boost participation in on-line health programs, according to researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School. Caroline Richardson, MD, associate professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, and her colleagues found adding an interactive on-line community to an Internet-based walking program significantly decreased the number of participants who dropped out.

AMA to CMS: Adopt Our Recommendations for Physician-led ACOs
CMIO, 12/6/10
To best meet the goals of optimized, coordinated patient care and also help curb health care costs, physicians should be the heart of ACOs, an evolving model of patient care, according to a letter sent bye the AMA to CMS. The AMA's recommendations make it possible for physicians in all practice sizes and settings to successfully participate in ACOs, which will foster competition and innovation to benefit patients and our health system.