Both HIT Policy and Standard Committees met for the final time this year. Both ONC and CMS are on track to release interim rules by the end of the year.
The Policy committee’s NHIN workgroup held a public hearing on Wednesday of last week. The topic for discussion was directory services and certificates. Testimonies were heard from companies and organizations that have been involved in development and use of Directory Services. Several challenges and obstacles were discussed to maintaining an accurate and up-to-date directory. One of the biggest obstacles is (I know you are going to be surprised) no uniform standards for integrating all the current directories and networks. For more information read Federal Computer Week’s “NHIN needs a better provider directory”. And how will CMS identify and locate providers to pay the new incentives? Read Government HealthIT’s “CMS calls for nationwide electronic provider directory”.
Updates from the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology reported on December 18, 2009 the availability of $60 million in Recovery Act funds to support the development of the Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects (SHARP) program. The program is designed to fund research “focused on identifying technology solutions to address well-documented problems impeding broad adoption of health information technology (health IT)”. Read the ONC update “Keeping a SHARP Focus on Innovation”.
HHS is soliciting bids for a “Strategic Design for an All-Payor, All-Claims Database to Support Comparative Effectiveness Research. There is a critical need for a new database since existing databases with longitudinal claims data include only data from the Medicare and Medicaid populations. The notice states, “Claims data, especially if established in a manner where it can be linked to other data over time, can be powerful a tool for Comparative Effectiveness Research and ultimately improve care for all Americans.”
CCHIT certifies the first product under the comprehensive program, ABEL Medical Software’s ABELMed EHR-EMR/PM, Version 11. Three other products have been certified under the preliminary ARRA program. CCHIT introduced its two new programs designed for providers to meet meaningful use criteria and be eligible for the incentive money back in October. For more information read “First products clear EHR meaningful use cerification”.
National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS) makes EHR meaningful use recommendations to HHS. NCVHS notes that a key goal of the HITECH Act is to accelerate adoption and meaningful use of EHRs to measure and improve health care processes and outcomes. In a letter to the HHS Secretary NCHS stated, “In order to effectively produce comparative quality data, EHRs must be designed with quality reporting requirements in mind.” Read the letter and recommendations.
HHS is getting ready to hire and double the size of the ONC. Currently the office employs 50 people which will soon be 100. In the new positions will be a chief privacy officer. ONC says it is currently evaluating candidates and expects to have an appointee by February. For more information read “HHS beefs up health IT coordinator’s office”.