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FHA Supports Open Source Governance and Code Management of CONNECT

The Federal Health Architecture (FHA) is working with Open Health Tools (OHT) to migrate the governance and code management of CONNECT, an open source software solution that enables secure health information exchange (HIE), to their open source community. OHT, a 501(c)(6) non-profit organization that governs open source communities and provides a framework for individuals, vendors, and government to collaborate on health IT projects, has selected CONNECT as one of their projects.

This is a key milestone for the CONNECT program that and the beginning of a fruitful collaboration with the open source community and FHA. FHA looks forward to supporting the community’s efforts, through OHT, to implement a governance structure that provides a mechanism for community participants– including health information exchanges, vendors, providers, and academia – to expand their contributions to the CONNECT program and have a meaningful voice in its future evolution. FHA will continue to contribute to the development of CONNECT to ensure that there are versions of this program that support the unique requirements of the federal health community.

FHA anticipates that CONNECT will continue to be a core component of the rapidly growing interoperability ecosystem, allowing organizations nationwide to support better, more cost effective care for all U.S. citizens.

CONNECT development began in 2007 as a federated program managed by FHA and its federal partners, including the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs, and Social Security Administration. Over the following seven years, CONNECT grew and evolved to meet nationwide requirements to enable secure, efficient HIE among the federal partners, states and private organizations. FHA engaged with members of the public and private communities to develop CONNECT, with the existing codebase including contributions from 15+ organizations.

CONNECT is distributed under the BSD 3-Clause (Modified BSD) License. See opensource.org/licenses/BSD-3-Clause for further license details.

As an open source capability, CONNECT is available to anyone to download and tailor to their unique needs. FHA encourages industry to join in the development of the CONNECT community and contribute to the evolution of CONNECT.

For more information about FHA, visit www.healthit.gov/fha or contact federal.health@hhs.gov. For more information about CONNECT, visit the CONNECT Community Wiki at wiki.connectopensource.org.

April 2, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Last Day for Medicare Eligible Professionals to Register for 2013 EHR Incentive

Today is the last day to register for the 2013 EHR incentive money. If you haven’t done so already, you’ll want to go and do that now. Unlike ICD-10, I don’t see this being delayed.

Here’s an email from CMS with details of the deadline:

If you are an eligible professional, today is the last day you can register and attest to demonstrating meaningful use for the 2013 Medicare EHR Incentive Program. You must successfully attest by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, to receive an incentive payment for your 2013 participation.

CMS extended the deadline for eligible professionals to attest to meaningful use for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program to allow more time for providers to submit their meaningful use data and receive an incentive payment for the 2013 program year.

Medicaid Eligible Professionals
Eligible professionals participating in the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program need to refer to their state deadlines for attestation information.

Payment Adjustments
Payment adjustments for eligible professionals will be applied beginning January 1, 2015, to Medicare participants that have not successfully demonstrated meaningful use. For more information, visit the payment adjustment tipsheet for eligible professionals.

You must attest to demonstrating meaningful use every year to receive an incentive and avoid a payment adjustment.

If you are only eligible to participate in the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program, you are not subject to payment adjustments.

Resources

Plan Ahead
Review important dates for the EHR Incentive Programs and all CMS eHealth programs using this Interactive Timeline.

March 31, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Medicare Eligible Hospitals: Take Action by April 1 to Avoid 2015 Payment Adjustment

Payment adjustments for eligible hospitals that have not successfully participated in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program will begin on October 1, 2014. Hospitals can avoid the payment adjustment by taking action by April 1.

Hospitals that have never participated in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program can:

  • Submit a hardship exception application for experiencing circumstances that posted a significant barrier to achieving meaningful use
  • Begin 90 days of meaningful use for the 2014 reporting year by April 1 and attest by July 1

Hospitals that participated in 2011 or 2012, but did not successfully participate in 2013 due to circumstances that created barriers can also submit a hardship exception.

About Hardship Exceptions
The hardship exception application for Medicare eligible hospitals is available on the EHR Incentive Programs website and outlines the specific types of circumstances that CMS considers to be barriers to achieving meaningful use. Supporting documentation must also be provided. CMS will review applications to determine whether or not a hardship exception should be granted.

As a reminder, the application must be submitted electronically or postmarked no later than 11:59pm ET on April 1, 2014 to be considered. If approved, the exception is valid for one year.

March 10, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Getting HITECH: Unraveling the Complexities of Compliance

The following is a guest blog post by Jason Carolan, CTO for ViaWest.
Jason Carolan

HITECH and HIPAA compliance are incredibly important to the bottom lines of many companies. But what exactly does this compliance entail? In 2009, the HITECH Act (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) was passed, expanding the scope of the previous Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HITECH enforces the rules of HIPAA, while invoking stiff fines for non-compliance. Now more than ever before it is absolutely imperative that companies working with healthcare organizations ensure they have all the facts before designing IT solutions. And one of the keys to having all the facts is knowing the core terminology.

A Covered Entity under the HIPAA privacy rule refers to health plan groups, health care clearinghouses and health care providers that transmit health information electronically, including, doctors, dentists, chiropractors, insurers, Medicare, medical plans and billing services. These Covered Entities face the additional challenge of managing their Business Associates, revisiting agreements and ensuring privacy, security, enforcements and breach notification updates in order to meet the requirements of the Final Rule.

A Business Associate (BA) under the HIPAA privacy rule refers to a person or organization that conducts business with a Covered Entity that involves the use, access or disclosure of protected health information (PHI). HITECH also specifies that an organization that provides data transmission of PHI is a BA. Examples of BAs include vendors, subcontractors and IT service providers that provide managed hosting services requiring access, use or disclosure of PHI.

All HIPAA Covered Entities and Business Associates must comply with security controls to safeguard PHI through the following due diligence efforts:

  • Ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of PHI
  • Protect against any reasonably anticipated threats and hazards
  • Protect against reasonably anticipated uses or disclosures of PHI that are not permitted
  • Ensure compliance by its workforce through Administrative Safeguards, Physical Safeguards, Technical Safeguards, Organizational Requirements and Policies and Procedures
  • Documentation of breach notification procedures and timeliness of breach notification

Covered Entities and Business Associates who have a strong security posture and can prove their due diligence through establishments and audit of controls and breach preparedness have a lower risk of fines than those companies that do nothing.  Proven due diligence includes:

  • Prioritizing compliance efforts
  • Culture awareness
  • Implementing security policies
  • Conducting risk assessments
  • Enforcing and validation of controls to protect PHI

IT departments are dealing with the same or shrinking budgets.  So, with a larger component of IT budget consumed by compliance, CIOs and CTOs are getting pressure from a resource standpoint but shrinking budgets. Failing on compliance can bring stiffer punishments and fines, so, more and more companies are looking at outsourcing so that they can share the burden and ensure they aren’t missing important components.

An audit may not be a pleasant experience, but it’s a reality, and being prepared is the key. The right technology provider can help you not just with a compliance checklist, but can take it a step further and provide a comprehensive set of solutions to be “baked in” upfront – minimizing the risk of audit or the “pain” of the audit if you are in the midst of one.

With increased regulation comes increased risk and complexity surrounding HIPAA compliance.  Are you confident in your company’s data security?

March 6, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

2015 Edition EHR Certification Criteria NPRM Out as a #HIMSS14 Present

HHS just sent out the announcement about the 2015 Edition EHR Certification Criteria (“2015 Edition”) NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rule Making). I guess the new ONC coordinator didn’t learn from the last time an NPRM was released during HIMSS. It ruined a lot of people’s time at HIMSS as they scoured the rule. Although, I don’t think the 2015 Edition will be quite as big of a deal as the original MU NPRM. You can sure many people will enjoy the 2015 Edition NPRM as some light reading on their airplane ride to HIMSS. I’m sure HHS wanted it published before HIMSS so they could talk about it during their sessions at HIMSS as well.

Here’s the announcement and for those that don’t want to filter through the fluff of the full final rule, here’s a great 2015 Edition Fact Sheet.

The HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) today issued proposals for the next edition (the “2015 Edition”) of electronic health record (EHR) technology certification criteria.

This proposed rule marks the first time ONC has proposed an edition of certification criteria separate from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ “meaningful use” regulations. The proposals represent ONC’s new regulatory approach that includes more incremental and frequent rulemaking. This approach allows ONC to update certification criteria more often to reference improved standards, continually improve regulatory clarity, and solicit comments on potential proposals as a way to signal ONC’s interest in a particular topic area.

“The proposed 2015 Edition EHR certification criteria reflect ONC’s commitment to incrementally improving interoperability and efficiently responding to stakeholder feedback,” said Karen DeSalvo, M.D., M.P.H., national coordinator for health IT. “We will continue to focus on setting policy and adopting standards that make it possible for health care providers to safely and securely exchange electronic health information and for patients to become an integral part of their care team.”

Compliance with the 2015 Edition would be voluntary — EHR developers that have certified EHR technology to the 2014 Edition would not need to recertify to the 2015 Edition for customers to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. Similarly, health care providers eligible to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs would not need to “upgrade” to EHR technology certified to 2015 Edition to have EHR technology that meets the Certified EHR Technology definition. “This provides the opportunity for developers and health care providers to move to the 2015 Edition on their own terms and at their own pace,” said Dr. DeSalvo.

The proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register on February 26, 2014. ONC will accept comments on the proposed rule through April 28, 2014. The final rule is expected to be issued in summer 2014.

For more information, visit Standards and Certification Regulations page on HealthIT.gov.

February 21, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

New EHR Attestation Deadline for Eligible Professionals: March 31, 2014

I just got the following update to meaningful use deadlines from CMS:

CMS is extending the deadline for eligible professionals to attest to meaningful use for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program 2013 reporting year from 11:59 pm ET on February 28, 2014 to 11:59 pm ET March 31, 2014.

In addition, CMS is offering assistance to eligible hospitals who may have experienced difficulty attesting to submit their attestation retroactively and avoid the 2015 payment adjustment.

This extension will allow more time for providers to submit their meaningful use data and receive an incentive payment for the 2013 program year, as well as avoid the 2015 payment adjustment.

This extension does not impact the deadlines for the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program or any other CMS program, including the electronic submission for the Physician Quality Reporting System EHR Incentive Program Pilot.

February 7, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Timeline and Details of Medicare EHR Penalties

Eligible professionals (EPs) participating in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program may be subject to payment adjustments beginning on January 1, 2015. CMS will determine the payment adjustment based on meaningful use data submitted prior to the 2015 calendar year. EPs must demonstrate meaningful use prior to 2015 to avoid payment adjustments.

Determine how your EHR Incentive Program participation start year will affect the 2015 payment adjustments:

If you began in 2011 or 2012…
If you first demonstrated meaningful use in 2011 or 2012, you must demonstrate meaningful use for a full year in 2013 to avoid the payment adjustment in 2015.

If you began in 2013…
If you first demonstrate meaningful use in 2013, you must demonstrate meaningful use for a 90-day reporting period in 2013 to avoid the payment adjustment in 2015.

If you plan to begin in 2014…
If you first demonstrate meaningful use in 2014, you must demonstrate meaningful use for a 90-day reporting period in 2014 to avoid the payment adjustment in 2015. This reporting period must occur in the first 9 months of calendar year 2014, and EPs must attest to meaningful use no later than October 1, 2014, to avoid the payment adjustment.

Avoiding Payment Adjustments in the Future
You must continue to demonstrate meaningful use every year to avoid payment adjustments in subsequent years.

If you are eligible to participate in both the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs, you MUST demonstrate meaningful use to avoid the payment adjustments. You may demonstrate meaningful use under either Medicare or Medicaid.

If you are only eligible to participate in the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program, you are not subject to these payment adjustments.

February 3, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

McKesson and Meditech Named as First “Test EHRs” by CMS and ONC

CMS and ONC just announced the first two “Test EHRs” are McKesson and Meditech. Here’s the details of their announcement:

As part of our and CMS’ ongoing effort to improve interoperability among certified Electronic Health Records Technology (CEHRT), we are pleased to announce McKesson and Meditech are the first two “Test EHRs,” selected from among certified EHRs. We strongly encourage others in the EHR technology developer community to participate in the program to become a CMS designated test EHR.

Under Stage 2 of Meaningful Use transition of care objective measure #3 [PDF - 218 KB]eligible professionals (EPs) and eligible hospitals/critical access hospitals (CAHs) must either:

- Conduct one or more successful electronic exchanges of a summary of care document, with a recipient who has EHR technology designed by a different EHR technology developer than the sender’s.

Or

- Conduct one or more successful tests with the CMS designated test EHR during the EHR reporting period

ONC and NIST conducted a pilot that ran from September through November of last year to finalize the test procedures. The pilot participants were AthenaHealthMcKesson andMeditech.

To find out more about becoming a CMS designated test EHR, read the “EHR Technology Developers” section of the FAQs on becoming a CMS designated test EHR and the “Developer Participant Information for Cross Vendor Exchange” document.

I find it interesting that AthenaHealth was a pilot participant, but isn’t one of the official “Test EHRs.” I wondered what happened there. Looks like a lot of EHR vendors will be able to at least connect to McKesson and Meditech.

January 16, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

New ONC Coordinator – Dr. Karen DeSalvo

Today it was announced that Dr. Karen DeSalvo would be the replacement to the beloved Former National Coordinator for Health IT, Farzad Mostashari. It seems that Dr. DeSalvo has an interesting history currently working as Health Commissioner for the City of New Orleans and Senior Health Policy Advisor to the New Orleans Mayor. She also has served as a member of the Steering Committee for the Crescent City Beacon Community grant.

I love Jacob Reider’s note to his ONC colleagues after serving as Acting National Coordinator:

I have been honored to serve as your Acting National Coordinator. Every minute has been inspiring, educational, and energizing. Both Lisa and I appreciate all of the support each and every one of you have given us and will give to Karen. The work of “team ONC” is a product of every team member contributing as much as we can toward our shared goals. As the baseball fans among you may recall, David Murphy, an outfielder for the Texas Rangers, was called upon to pitch in a game against the Red Sox last Summer. Like Murphy’s experience, our success has been a product of the team’s hard work and support rather than my personal achievements as your leader. As my tenure as your National Coordinator is now drawing to a close, I will return to the outfield where I am proud to serve as your Chief Medical Officer, and continue to work hard with you. We have a great team, great mission-driven people, and an incredible opportunity to change our world for the better.

I think the ONC is a great team that has the right ambitions and goals. Karen certainly has a tough act to follow. Plus, health IT is entering a new era in its history. I wish her the best of luck as she takes on this challenging position.

December 19, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

EMR and Privacy

I’ve recently engaged Dr. Deborah Peel, Founder of the Patient Privacy Rights organization, in a number of really interesting discussions around patient privacy. For those who aren’t familiar with Dr. Peel, she’s the most passionate patient privacy advocate in the world. While I don’t always agree with Dr. Peel’s views on patient privacy, I always love to hear what she has to say and I think we need more people like her in healthcare to make the case for something they think is really important.

With this said, Dr. Peel recently told me about a Wall Street Journal Experts chat she was on where they discussed EMR and privacy. You can see the video embedded below (Dr. Salwitz had sound issues, so after the intro you might want to skip to 4 minutes):

Dr. Peel also told me about an ONC event that she’ll be attending to talk about a really important topic: Patient IDs. When you’re talking privacy, the patient ID discussion is a very important one. Here’s the info if this is a discussion that you think is important. Plus, if enough people register, they’ll stream the event for everyone to watch online.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) invites organizations with an interest in improving the accuracy of electronic patient identification and matching to attend a meeting in Washington, D.C. on December 16, 2013.
The Patient Matching Stakeholder Meeting will be held from 10:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at Patriot Plaza III, 355 E Street, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024.
Registration is now open –
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1iqgChkhhXj-Jpx99jfI7No9I_RuzviNEN6bsyuHgxdU/viewform

The agenda will include:
– Updates on the recent industry environmental scan on patient identification and matching, conducted by Audacious Inquiry on behalf of ONC;
– Sharing of initial recommendations for improving patient matching rates, derived from input from a wide range of stakeholders;
– Interactive discussions around emerging ideas to improve the processes of data collection, data validation, and other ways to help ensure accurate patient identification and matching, as electronic exchange of health information increases across the country; and
– Opportunities for all sectors to provide further feedback, including: large and small health care organizations, software and hardware health IT vendors, federal agencies, patient safety and privacy advocates, associations, and state and regional health information organizations.

We are exploring the possibility of providing webinar/videoconferencing capabilities to expand participation. Please register now, even if you plan to attend remotely, and we will follow up with more information.

November 20, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.