The federal government continued to implement the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, during the second quarter of 2012. Below is a summary of key developments and milestones achieved between April 1and June 30.
The second quarter of 2012 saw a number of important developments:
ONC Seeks Public Comment on NwHIN Governance RFI. On May 15, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT released a request for information soliciting feedback from the public on options for governance of the Nationwide Health Information Network. ONC defines NwHIN as a set of standards, services and policies that enable secure health information exchange over the Internet. ONC included in the RFI a number of proposed "rules of the road" to govern NwHIN; the centerpiece of the proposal is a voluntary program under which entities that enable electronic health information exchange could be validated (i.e., formally recognized) for meeting ONC-established "conditions for trusted exchange." Comments on the RFI were originally due June 14, but the deadline was extended to June 29.
ONC Creates Two New Offices. On May 16, ONC announced the creation of the Office of the Chief Medical Officer and the Office of Consumer eHealth. The Office of the Chief Medical Officer will address health IT issues relating to safety, usability, clinical decision support, meaningful use policy development and quality. The Office of Consumer eHealth will continue ONC's work to engage patients and families in their health, including overseeing ONC's pledge program, a nationwide campaign to encourage health care providers to make it easier for individuals and their caregivers to have electronic access to their health information.
ONC Releases Health IT Dashboard. On May 9, ONC launched a website highlighting national progress toward the nation's health IT adoption goals. ONC strategy, information on health IT grant programs and data from regional extension centers are examples of the information available to the public through the new website.
Health IT Policy & Standards Committees
Health IT Policy and Standards Committees Submit Comments on Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program Proposed Rules and NwHIN Governance RFI
During the second quarter of 2012, the Health IT Policy Committee and Health IT Standards Committee were largely focused on developing comments on the Stage 2 meaningful use and electronic health record standards and certification criteria proposed rules and on the NwHIN Governance RFI. The Policy Committee's various work groups also began work on Stage 3 meaningful use criteria during the month of June.
ONC Releases Updated Certified Health IT Product List
On June 26, ONC released version 2.1 of the Certified Health IT Product List, which lists all the EHRs and EHR modules that have been certified by ONC's Temporary Certification Program. Version 2.1 lists 1,700 EHRs and EHR modules approved for meaningful use.
CMS Announces New EHR Adoption and Incentive Payment Statistics
On June 19, CMS announced that more than 110,000 eligible professionals and more than 2,400 eligible hospitals have received incentive payments under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. More than $3 billion in Medicare incentive payments were made between May 2011 (when the first payments were released) and the end of May 2012. More than $2.6 billion in Medicaid incentive payments were made between January 2011 (when the first states launched their programs) and the end of May 2012. CMS also published the names and contact information of Medicare hospitals and professionals that have received meaningful use payments. These lists will be updated on a quarterly basis.
GAO Releases Report Calling for Increased Oversight of EHR Incentive Programs
On April 30, the Government Accountability Office released a report recommending ways for CMS to improve oversight of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. Recommendations included creating timelines to evaluate Medicare audits, increasing Medicare prepayment verifications, and aligning Medicare and Medicaid eligibility verification requirements.
OIG Releases Report on EHR Adoption Among Medicare Physicians
On June 21, HHS' Office of the Inspector General released a report titled, "Use of Electronic Health Record Systems in 2011 Among Medicare Physicians Providing Evaluation and Management Services." The report found that 57% of Medicare physicians used an EHR in their primary practice location and 22% began using EHRs to document evaluation and management services in 2011.
CMS Posts Health Care Provider EHR Adoption Videos
On June 7, CMS posted videos on its YouTube channel highlighting 10 health care providers' experiences achieving meaningful use of EHRs.
Health Information Exchange
States Adopt Direct Project Secure Messaging Standards for Health Information Exchange
On June 19, ONC announced that 28 states and territories are currently using Direct Project secure messaging protocols to exchange patient health information. A dozen more states are expected to offer Direct Project secure messaging by September.
Privacy and Security
HHS Office for Civil Rights Releases Audit Protocols
On May 31, the HHS Office for Civil Rights published an audit protocol containing the performance measures that it will assess when it conducts audits of health care providers' and health plans' compliance with the HIPAA Privacy and Security rules. OCR is required to conduct the audits under the HITECH Act.
ONC Publishes Privacy and Security Guide
On May 9, ONC released a "Guide to Privacy and Security of Health Information" for health care providers. The guide aims to assist providers in integrating privacy and security practices into their daily workflows. To this end, it provides security risk analysis and management tips as well as a 10-step privacy and security plan.
HITRUST Launches Health Care Cybersecurity Center
On April 24, the Health Information Trust Alliance launched the HITRUST Cybersecurity Incident Response and Coordination Center. The Center will work with HHS and 14 health care plans and providers to, among other things, "facilitat[e] the early identification of cybersecurity attacks, coordination of response activities and creation of best practices."
Other Health IT Developments
ONC Launches New S&I Framework Initiatives
On June 6, ONC announced Health eDecisions, a new Standards & Interoperability Framework Initiative, to address standards for clinical decision support tools. On the same day, ONC also announced a new S&I-affiliated initiative called RESTful Health Exchange (RHEx), which will test application of the REST-style (Representational State Transfer) architecture to health information exchange. REST is a popular approach of accessing and managing remote resources on the Internet that relies on a stateless, client-server, cacheable communications protocol. The S&I Framework is an ONC-supported effort that consists of a group of volunteers who utilize established processes and tools to solve different interoperability issues, each of which are framed as different initiatives.
HHS and IOM Host Third Annual Health Datapalooza
On June 5-6, HHS and the Institute of Medicine hosted the third annual "Health Datapalooza," a public-private collaboration that encourages innovators to utilize health data to develop applications that enable patients to better manage their health. More than 1,600 people attended the event.
ONC Announces New Pilot Project Designed To Use Health IT To Reduce Prescription Drug Misuse
On June 21, ONC announced two new pilot projects that will make prescription drug use data available to health care providers and pharmacists in an effort to reduce prescription drug misuse. The pilot projects, which will take place in Indiana and Ohio, will measure the effects of expanding and improving access to prescription drug monitoring programs. PDMPs are statewide electronic databases designed to identify and intervene in cases of potential prescription drug misuse by collecting, monitoring and analyzing electronically transmitted prescribing and dispensing data submitted by pharmacies and dispensing practitioners.
HHS Announces Four Health IT Challenges
On June 7, HHS announced requirements and registrations for the Blue Button Mash Up Challenge, Health Data Platform Metadata Challenge, Health Data Platform Simple Sign-On Challenge and the My Air, My Health Challenge. The Blue Button Mash Up Challenge and My Air, My Health Challenge leverage health data for patient empowerment and environmental health research, while the Health Data Platform Challenges improve the classification and use of health data.
ONC Announces Reporting Patient Safety Events Challenge
On April 11, ONC launched the Reporting Patient Safety Events Challenge. Applicants will compete for prize money to "[i]ncrease the ease of reporting patient safety events to the provider or parent organization." Submissions are due Aug. 30.
ONC Launches Beat Down Blood Pressure Video Challenge
On April 5, ONC, with Million Hearts and the American Heart Association, launched the Beat Down Blood Pressure Video Challenge to encourage the public to create short videos highlighting how health IT can help control blood pressure. Submissions were due May 2, and the winning videos have been posted here.
HHS Announces New CTO
On June 15, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that Bryan Sivak would be the next HHS chief technology officer. Sivak was formerly Maryland's chief innovation officer. Sivak started at HHS in July.