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ONC Leadership Transition – Dr. Vindell Washington Replaces Karen DeSalvo as National Coordinator for ONC

Secretary Burwell sent the following letter to announce the change.

Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce two important staff transitions.  Starting Friday, August 12, Dr. Karen DeSalvo will continue to serve as the Acting Assistant Secretary for Health and transition out of her dual role as National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.  I have asked Dr. Vindell Washington to serve as National Coordinator, overseeing the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).

Karen has served tirelessly as the National Coordinator since joining the Department in January 2014.  Under her leadership, ONC has advanced interoperability across the health system – which underpins progress on a wide range of Department and Administration priorities.  She has also made significant advances to the Health Information Technology Certification Program to promote and expand the safe and secure flow of electronic health information when and where it matters most for individuals and clinicians.  During her tenure, ONC has worked with other federal partners and the private sector to update the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan and develop a Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap, both of which chart a person-centered path for improving health outcomes by unlocking health data through tools like open application programming interfaces (APIs).  She has also co-chaired the Department’s Delivery System Reform efforts, which set historic goals and worked to leverage the resources of the Department to build a more person centered health system that encourages more coordinated care.  As many of you know, I asked Karen to take on the duties of Assistant Secretary for Health in October 2014 during the Ebola crisis.  Since that time, she has provided critical leadership on the Department’s public health agenda while simultaneously serving as National Coordinator.  As Acting Assistant Secretary for Health, Karen has been instrumental in supporting families affected by the water crisis in Flint, in promoting nutritional and physical fitness through the development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the events surrounding the 60th Anniversary of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition, and in leading the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.  This year, she launched Public Health 3.0, an innovative cross-sector approach to strengthening local public health and building healthier communities.  I am deeply grateful to Karen for her leadership and for her incredible service in both of these roles for nearly two years.

I am also very pleased to announce that Dr. Vindell Washington will become National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.  Many of you know Vindell from his excellent work as Principal Deputy National Coordinator at ONC, where he has also worked closely with leaders throughout the Department on key initiatives, such as Delivery System Reform, the Precision Medicine Initiative, and the opioid crisis.  In his capacity as National Coordinator, Vindell will continue to lead the Administration’s efforts to leverage health information technology to reform how we pay for and deliver care; transform health research and innovation to empower clinicians, individuals and communities to manage their health; and oversee implementation of the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan and the Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap to unlock digital health data and ensure it is widely accessible, usable, and transferable throughout the public and private sectors.

Please join me in congratulating Karen and Vindell.  And thank you for your dedication as we continue to sprint to the finish line in these final months of the Administration.

Sincerely,
Sylvia M. Burwell
Secretary

August 11, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Learn about New Requirements for Participation in EHR Incentive Programs

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) recently announced the release of final rules for the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs and the 2015 Edition Health IT Certification Criteria. The rules will be published on October 16, 2015, and are currently on display in the Federal Register.

The EHR Incentive Programs final rule provides new criteria that eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs) must meet in order to successfully participate in the EHR Incentive Programs. The final rule outlines program requirements in 2015 through 2017 (Modified Stage 2) and Stage 3 in 2018 and beyond, and includes a comment period for Stage 3.

The 2015 Edition Health IT Certification Criteria final rule builds on past editions of adopted health IT certification criteria, and includes new and updated IT functionality and provisions that support the EHR Incentive Programs’ care improvement, cost reduction, and patient safety across the health system.

EHR Incentive Programs Final Rule Provisions
Through the new requirements of the EHR Incentive Programs, CMS will expand meaningful use of certified EHR technology to promote health information exchange and improved outcomes. The rule also includes changes to the structure of the EHR Incentive Programs to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and flexibility.

Major policy provisions include:

  • Program modifications to reduce reporting burden, eliminate redundant and duplicative reporting, and to better align the objectives and measures of meaningful use with the Stage 3 requirements.
  • A revised single set of objectives and measures, including a reduction of the overall number of objectives to which a provider must attest.
  • Changes in EHR reporting periods, including a shift to calendar year for all providers and 90-day reporting for 2015.
  • Revisions to attestation and payment adjustment deadlines.
  • Optional Stage 3 reporting in 2017.

For more information about the EHR Incentive Programs final rule, view the Final Rule Fact Sheet that highlights key changes to the EHR Incentive Programs.

To learn more about the ONC 2015 Edition Health IT Certification Criteria final rule, visit: https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Fact-sheets/2015-Fact-sheets-items/2015-10-06.html

October 7, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

HIMSS Formally Submits Comments on ONC on Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap

In an April 3rd letter to the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC), HIMSS submitted its final comments in response to ONC’s Connecting Health Care for the Nation: A Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap.

In an April 3 letter to the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC), HIMSS submitted its final comments in response to ONC’s Connecting Health Care for the Nation: A Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap.

HIMSS overall supports ONC’s tenets of the Interoperability Roadmap for an interoperable health IT infrastructure.  The Interoperability Roadmap lays out a plan that builds on what HIMSS has already invested in: standards that enable the foundation for interoperability today, and processes to test and certify that health IT systems implement those standards consistently and according to constrained implementation guidance.  In its comments, HIMSS is recommending ONC focus on six key ideas:

  • The plan put forth by ONC to advance interoperability requires well-coordinated governance processes that include involvement from federal partners, the private sector, payers, and the patient community, with robust incentives for each domain to buy-in to the process
  • Many of the timelines put forth in the Interoperability Roadmap for the three, six, and ten-year timeframes for critical actions are too aggressive and need to be reevaluated, with the exception of the privacy and security provisions
  • HIMSS applauds ONC for its person-centric vision in the Interoperability Roadmap that enables interoperability and empowers patients to demand that their providers and relevant health IT systems be interoperable
  • HIMSS does not support the idea that individual consent should be required for use and disclosure of information if individual consent is not required under applicable law
  •   Regarding security, HIMSS observes that healthcare, as a critical US infrastructure, needs support at many levels to keep data secure and to be positioned to address cyber threats
  •   HIMSS is committed to being a thought leader on interoperability and spurring the community and stakeholder groups forward

HIMSS is committed to continuing our role as a thought leader on advancing the principles described in our public comments and stands ready to work with ONC, federal partners, and all stakeholders to realize an achievable vision for interoperability and health information exchange.

HIMSS’ final comments are available here.

April 3, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

New ONC Leadership and Organizational Structure

Karen DeSalvo recently announced some changes to the ONC leadership structure. This isn’t surprising since it often happens when there’s a leadership change. Here’s a look at the new ONC leadership organization:

Office of Care Transformation: Kelly Cronin
Office of the Chief Privacy Officer: Joy Pritts
Office of the Chief Operating Officer: Lisa Lewis
Office of the Chief Scientist: Doug Fridsma, MD, PhD
Office of Clinical Quality and Safety: Judy Murphy, RN
Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Analysis: Seth Pazinski
Office of Policy: Jodi Daniel
Office of Programs: Kim Lynch
Office of Public Affairs and Communications: Nora Super
Office of Standards and Technology: Steve Posnack

Each of these leaders will report directly to the Immediate Office of the National Coordinator, which includes Jacob Reider, MD and Karen DeSalvo.

I asked HHS for a short description of what each “Office” will oversee and do. Turns out that they posted the details to the Federal Register. Makes you wonder what else is in the Federal Register that never sees the light of day.

June 3, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Eligible Professionals: Deadline to Submit Hardship Exception Applications Approaching

Here’s the latest email from CMS on the hardship exception deadline:

Are you a Medicare provider who was unable to successfully demonstrate meaningful use for 2013? CMS is accepting applications for hardship exceptions to avoid the upcoming Medicare payment adjustment for the 2015 reporting year.

Payment adjustments for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program will begin on January 1, 2015 for eligible professionals.

However, you can avoid the adjustment by completing a hardship exception application and providing supporting documentation that proves demonstrating meaningful use would be a significant hardship for you. CMS will review applications to determine whether or not you are granted a hardship exception.

CMS has posted hardship exception applications on the EHR website for:

Applications for the 2015 payment adjustments are due July 1, 2014 for eligible professionals.  If approved, the exception is valid for one year.

New Hardship Exception Tipsheets
You can also avoid payment adjustments by successfully demonstrating meaningful use prior to the payment adjustment. Tipsheets are available on the CMS website that outline when eligible professionals must demonstrate meaningful use in order to avoid the payment adjustments.

May 28, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

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 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

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 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

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 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

ONC Health IT Infographic

These are some really interesting numbers. The one that hit me is the percentage of doctors and hospitals which were meaningful users of an EHR. We’ll see how that percentage changes over time. No doubt EHR has made huge progress since the EHR incentive money was put in place.

ONC Health IT Infographic

September 25, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

CMS Releases MU Stage 2 Guide

CMS has released a new resource, An Eligible Professional’s Guide to Stage 2 of the EHR Incentive Programs, which provides a comprehensive overview of Stage 2 of the EHR Incentive Programs to eligible professionals. The guide outlines criteria for Stage 2 meaningful use, 2014 clinical quality measure reporting, and 2014 EHR certification.

The guide’s table of contents makes it easy for you to navigate through Stage 2 topics. Interactive tabs included at the bottom of each page allow you to transition between different chapters.

Chapters include:

  • What is Stage 2 of the EHR Incentive Programs?
  • What are the requirements under Stage 2 of Meaningful Use?
  • How will clinical quality measures (CQMs) change?
  • Resources

The guide can be found on the Educational Resources page of the EHR website.

September 17, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.