CMS Reflects on August Summit; Prepares for December

CMS eHealth Summit

CMS Communication from Robert Tagalicod, Director, Office of E-Health Standards and Services

Next month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will host its second eHealth Summit with health care industry leaders to discuss issues related to the successful adoption of health information technology. At the December 6th event, industry will discuss topics ranging from Stage 3 of meaningful use, to the future of quality reporting, to health information exchange, and innovations happening at the state level.

As we look forward to this interesting and important discussion, I would like to reflect on the frank and open dialogue that summit panelists shared at our first summit in August. Some key considerations emerged that will guide CMS as we build a dynamic health IT system focused on increasing access, reducing costs, and improving health care outcomes.

Engaging Patients and Breaking Barriers
Keeping patients in mind is fundamental when crafting health IT policies— both administrative and clinical. Every innovation we adopt must serve the underlying purpose of improving care, and engaging patients in their care is critical to that effort.  It is paramount that we deliver health information that is easily understandable and helps patients make informed decisions about their care.

While CMS and the states continue to improve state-based health information exchanges, we need to remember the importance of patient engagement and not lose sight of the main goal—patient outcomes.

We must work to break down barriers that prevent patients in rural areas from benefiting from health information technology and the exchange of patient data. We must focus on building a foundation to facilitate collaboration between patient and provider. And we must ensure the safety of patient data within this framework.

Improving Administrative and Clinical Interoperability
The electronic exchange of information that can improve patient care and outcomes is central to our efforts. CMS will continue to consider the proper degree of connectivity between administrative and clinical systems to ensure each health IT stakeholder (e.g., payers, office administrators) receives information that is relevant to their role in the health information exchange process.

CMS will continue to work with stakeholders to determine standards for achieving interoperability of certified electronic health record technology.

Collaborative Effort Needed to Ensure Privacy and Security of Health Information
Patients, providers, payers, and vendors all have a role in ensuring privacy and security of health care information. CMS will examine which groups need more information in order to deliver quality health care, and how that access is balanced with the need for maintaining privacy of patient data.

Conducting a security risk analysis to protect patient electronic health information is essential to safe and successful implementation of health information technology, which is why it is required for Stage 1 and Stage 2 of meaningful use. CMS will work with our colleagues in the Office for Civil Rights and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to ensure providers are successfully meeting the challenge of this requirement.

December 6th Summit
Our August eHealth Summit was the beginning of an important conversation with providers, payers, health IT vendors, and other stakeholders. The Office of eHealth Standards and Services at CMS is looking forward to another successful eHealth Summit on December 6th, in which we continue our discussions to improve health care through a national health information infrastructure. I hope you’ll be able to join us via webcast for the event. Please click here to register.