Stakeholders Discuss Health IT Policy, Practice at HIMSS Conference

During the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's annual conference, several health IT industry officials and stakeholders discussed health IT policy, challenges and best practices. Summaries of their comments are provided below.

ONC Town Hall

On Monday, National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari during an Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT Town Hall said that his role is "not like being the CIO of an enterprise." According to Mostashari, "ONC is more like a loose city planner that tries to think of common sense rules."

He said, "Our hope is to be as supportive as we can to the plurality of efforts out there. We won't get everything right, but we will always try our best" (Walsh, Clinical Innovation & Technology, 3/4).

Congressional Affairs Panel

During a Congressional Affairs Panel at the HIMSS conference Monday, several health policy experts and congressional staff members discussed state and federal health IT legislation.

The panelists indicated that many experts believe that key Senate and House committees intend to increase their oversight of the meaningful use program (Irving, Healthcare IT News, 3/4).

Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

Session on HIPAA Compliance

During a Monday HIMSS conference session on HIPAA compliance, Leon Rodriguez -- director of HHS' Office for Civil Rights -- discussed the changes included in the recently released final HIPAA omnibus rule.

He said that although health data breaches will happen, it is "willful neglect" that could result in major consequences for business associates or covered entities.

Rodriguez said, "The real purpose of breach notification is for covered entities to identify the vulnerabilities that resulted in the breach, (and) remedy those vulnerabilities in an immediate and decisive manner" (McCann, Healthcare IT News, 3/4).


During the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives' CIO Forum at the HIMSS conference, Judy Murphy -- deputy national coordinator for program and policy at ONC -- said that technology has laid the foundation for improved patient care and work flow.

However, Murphy said, health care providers should do more than simply store information on an EHR. She said that clinicians should:

  • Share and analyze EHR data;
  • Engage patients in the use of their data; and
  • Use EHR data for clinical decision support (Shaw, FierceHealthIT, 3/4).

Physicians' IT Symposium

During a Physicians' IT Symposium at the HIMSS conference, Seth Foldy -- senior adviser for CDC's Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology and Laboratory Services -- said that the point of the meaningful use program is to learn.

He said that by 2020, 90% of all clinical decisions will be supported by accurate, timely and up-to-date clinical data and will reflect the best evidence available. Foldy said that learning about patients through participation in the meaningful use program requires:

  • Data capture at the physician practice;
  • Data from the patient's other health care providers; and
  • Patient-contributed information (Walsh, Clinical Innovation & Technology, 3/4).

For additional coverage of the HIMSS conference, see today's iHealthBeat feature.

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