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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

March 2015 Senate committee Interoperababble hearing

I'm not sure how long the video will be up on the committee website. They have pdf files of the prepared witness testimonies on the site. There's a short edited hearing excerpt on YouTube here:

I watched the entire hour and 45 minutes. I've emailed to inquire as to whether there will be a transcript. It was a good hearing, as these things go. Very collegially bipartisan. Lots of concerns aired about the progress and status of the Meaningful Use program, specifically aimed around the continuing lack of effective and widespread "interoperability"/data exchange. (What I have coined as "Interoperababble®.")


As reported by iHealthBeat:
Senate Committee Addresses Meaningful Use, Interoperability

During a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Tuesday, senators and stakeholders discussed issues regarding the meaningful use program and barriers to achieving interoperability, Healthcare Informatics reports.

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health records can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments (Perna, Healthcare Informatics, 3/17).

Hearing Details on Meaningful Use
In an opening statement, Senate committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said that "evidence suggests" that while the meaningful use program has spent $30 billion, it has so far failed to deliver on its promises to "improve care, improve coordination and reduce costs."

Specifically, Alexander noted that eligible professionals and hospitals have struggled with the program to the point where CMS has been forced to delay or update its requirements three times. He added, "Half of physicians have not met the requirements of the program and are now facing penalties"...
Yeah, OK, "so far failed to deliver..."

From my March 6th post:
For one thing, I have noted before what I call "Health IT Policy ADHD." Major legislation gets passed and funded, and when we don't get immediate, dazzling results, we go sour on it, lamenting its "failure," and calling for its demise. HITECH is not that old. There have really only been four years of full-bore boots-on-the-ground operation. REC contracts were let in 2010, and the RECs spent most of their first year getting their sea legs under them and scurrying about hustling skeptical clinical participants.


Gotta love it. From Healthcare IT News.
Epic trades jabs with CommonWell Health Alliance
Epic's 'rhetoric is a slap in the face'

Comments by Epic's head of interoperability in a Senate HELP Committee Tuesday have triggered members of the CommonWell Health Alliance, the subject of some of the comments, to fire back at the Verona, Wisconsin-based EHR giant.

Peter DeVault, Epic's director of interoperability, spoke before the Senate committee on the topic of interoperability and Epic's role in moving it forward. In the questions portion of the hearing, Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, shifted the conversation, asking DeVault candidly: Why isn't Epic a part of CommonWell?...
The two-year old CommonWell has 1,000 physicians live on it, he said, compared to 100,000 physicians on Epic's Care Everywhere. Healthcare IT News reached out to CommonWell officials for the most up-to-date number but did not receive a response by publication time.
DeVault's comments didn't sit well with one of CommonWell's founding members (and one of Epic's chief competitors), Cerner.
His "rhetoric is a slap in the face to many parties working to advance interoperability," according to a statement released by Cerner officials shortly after the committee hearing. "It was discouraging to hear more potshots and false statements when it's clear there is real work to be done. We're committed to CommonWell as a practical, market-led way to achieve meaningful interoperability."
There's been tension between Epic and CommonWell ever since the latter group's launch at the 2013 HIMSS Annual Conference & Exhibition.
At that HIMSS13 announcement, athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush emphasized that anyone was invited to CommonWell – even a vendor of "epic proportions."...

More, from Modern Healthcare:
'Doc fix' bill would overhaul health IT policy, too
By Darius Tahir  | March 19, 2015

The bill introduced Thursday to replace Medicare's sustainable growth-rate formula for physician pay would also significantly alter federal policy on health information technology...

Lawmakers have ... used the legislation to take aim at obstacles to realizing the benefits of IT in healthcare, particularly the lack of interoperability, or data-sharing, between electronic health records.

The SGR bill establishes a July 2016 deadline for HHS to develop metrics to quantify progress toward more data-sharing among hospitals and other providers. HHS would have to account for the progress by December 2018...
This bears watching. A long road yet to an actual law, though.

More to come...

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