The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has reinstated its secure texting ban for physician orders amid the need for more guidance "to ensure a safe implementation involving the secure texting of orders for those organizations desiring to employ technology supporting this practice," officials said in a newsletter. The additional guidance will be co-developed with the CMS to comply with the Medicare Conditions of Participation and may be released by September.
Reinstating the secure texting ban is bad news. Significant progress has been made in the past couple of years by entrepreneurial and innovative companies that have developed secure applications and have helped improve clinical workflow while taking advantage of modern technologies. This feels like a step backward.
That said, I am pleased to see that the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations is working directly with the CMS on a set of guidelines. In the past, various organizations all had input that would sometimes conflict with one another and cause additional roadblocks. This collaborative effort will be helpful for vendors and organizations once the ban is lifted -- hopefully soon.
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Health care CIOs and other IT leaders should begin preparing their physicians now for payment reforms under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, despite CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt's announcement that the CMS may delay its Jan. 1 start date, experts said. "[The CMS is] already acknowledging that very few alternative payment models will be ready to go right away -- there's a high bar to participate in those, and you have to use certified technology -- so [the] CMS is assuming that most eligible physicians will be under [the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System] for the first few years," said Leslie Kriegstein, CHIME's vice president of congressional affairs.
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A Rock Health report showed that big-data and analytics firms raised a combined $300 million in digital health venture funding in the first half of this year. EHR and clinical workflow, wearables and biosensing, digital medical devices, population health management, and personal health tools and tracking were also among the top deals this year, the report said.
Green Circle Health, HealthCentrix, Medyear and MetroStar Systems, each of which developed tools to facilitate consumer access to health data, were the Phase 1 winners of the ONC's Consumer Health Data Aggregator challenge. Meanwhile, the Provider User Experience Challenge, which sought tools to improve clinicians' EHR experience, awarded $15,000 each to Herald Health, PHRASE Health, WellSheet and a partnership involving Duke Health System, Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Health Care.
Around 74.3% of more than 1,500 physicians and practice managers throughout the US reported no return on their EHR investment, and 46.1% said using EHRs led to a drop in daily patient consultations, according to a Physicians Practice survey. In addition, 59% reported EHRs helped improve their documentation processes and 78% reported accessing their EHR through a mobile device.
An Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology report discussed the lack of guidance over the security and privacy of, and consumer access to, health data collected and shared by entities not covered by HIPAA, which was written before health technologies such as wearable fitness trackers were developed. The ONC also cited the Federal Trade Commission's efforts to protect consumers by filing cases against businesses that violate the privacy and security of health data.
Proposed telemedicine regulations in Arkansas have been stalled in the state's House and Senate committees on public health, welfare and labor after Teladoc lobbyist Bradley Phillips testified that the changes made by the state's medical board in the language about store-and-forward technology should have required a new public comment period.
CHIME's board is actively involved in shaping the mission and vision of the organization. Board members engage in public policy discussions, help direct such initiatives as the National Patient ID Challenge and interact with senior CHIME staff to ensure that the organization is positioned to meet member needs. Elections for three slots will take place this summer. The newly elected trustees will serve three-year terms beginning Jan. 1, 2017. The deadline to apply is July 25. The CHIME Foundation is also conducting its annual board of directors election. The Foundation board plays a critical role in guiding the overall direction of the organization and ensuring that the Foundation is well positioned to support CHIME education and professional development activities. The deadline to apply for the CHIME Foundation board is July 31.