President-elect Donald Trump has chosen House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga., for HHS secretary, earning praise from CHIME and other stakeholder groups within the health IT industry. Price has led the advancement of national health IT policy reforms such as the shorter reporting period and extended application of hardship exemptions under the meaningful use program, said CHIME President and CEO Russell Branzell. Some observers, however, say reforms Price might institute could lead to reimbursement uncertainties that may stall health IT spending.
Ed Marx comments on health care changes that could affect IT
Ed Marx, NYC HHC IT leadership team (Submitted photo)
Given the politics of health care, we will experience change with the advent of a new administration. One of the most volatile arguments of the campaign was related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The president-elect has vowed to repeal the ACA and in fact recently appointed a physician- turned-politician to lead the charge as the new secretary of HHS. While a wholesale repeal is unlikely, there will be material change, and it will affect health care IT.
Political persuasion aside, be prepared to see a simplification of policies related to MACRA and meaningful use. Meeting all the reporting requirements of MACRA has proven burdensome for most organizations and physicians. Meaningful use was a super program to stimulate the economy and adoption of EHRs, but it ceases to be relevant today. That said, part of our service as CIOs is to remain up-to-date on what is happening locally and nationally so we can see ahead and prepare our organizations for what is coming next. One of the benefits of CHIME is taking advantage of our public policy arm so we can be informed and involved.
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The American Hospital Association sent a letter to President-elect Donald Trump, asking him to reduce the regulatory burden on hospitals by suspending the hospital star ratings on the Hospital Compare website and canceling stage 3 of the meaningful use program. The group also asked the incoming administration to remove payment barriers to remote patient monitoring and telehealth, reject site-neutral payment cuts and continue challenging mergers within the health insurance sector.
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The Department of Veterans Affairs signed a five-year partnership with Flow Health to develop a "medical knowledge graph" that will be used to help train artificial intelligence apps and inform decision-making for better patient care. "Developing artificial intelligence which can automatically identify the best diagnostic and treatment pathways will assist clinicians in delivering precision medicine to every veteran," said Dr. Robert Rowley, chief medical officer at Flow Health.
An IDC report reveals that ransomware attacks against the health care industry will double by 2018, driven by an increase in internet of things technology, lack of IT investment and "[t]he vulnerability of not having adequate and resilient security," said Lynne Dunbrack, research president of IDC Health Insights. Dunbrack stressed the importance of being hypervigilant regarding updating security software and installing security patches.
Six health care systems are setting up accountable care organizations in Massachusetts' pilot program to coordinate care for Medicaid beneficiaries. Boston Medical Center, Boston Children's Hospital, Partners HealthCare, Steward Health Care System, UMass Memorial Health Care and a new network of community health centers called Community Care Cooperative will participate in the shared-savings program.
The 21st Century Cures Act, which contains provisions that would reduce health care providers' EHR reporting burden, bolster interoperability and combat information blocking, passed the House by a vote of 392-26 on Wednesday and is scheduled to be up for vote in the Senate next week. CHIME President and CEO Russell Branzell expressed support for the measure, saying it would "significantly improve the ability of hospitals and other providers to exchange accurate patient data and advance personalized care."
Eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals attesting to stage 3 meaningful use are being given flexibilities to the EHR Incentive Program requirements under the final rule for the 2017 Outpatient Prospective Payment System issued by the CMS last month. The revisions, including the removal of some reporting requirements and extending hardship exemptions to eligible providers transitioning to the Merit-based Incentive Program System next year, aim to reduce the administrative burden, allowing hospitals to focus on providing quality health care and optimizing and updating their EHR technology, the CMS said.
The Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes Act, a bill that would make the University of Mexico's Project ECHO telemedicine program a national model for health care delivery in underserved and remote areas, was unanimously approved by the Senate on Tuesday. "Our bill capitalizes on this technology to give health professionals in hard-to-reach areas the specialized training they need and help them reach more patients," said Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, who co-sponsored the legislation with Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
Health care continues to experience an accelerated rate of complex change, and health care IT executives are facing the challenges of leading their organizations and teams to achieve new goals at a faster pace than ever. The CHIME-HIMSS 2017 CIO Forum will address critical areas of health IT executive change leadership. Please join us to hear from nationally recognized faculty while reflecting on ways to lead your organization through the increasing challenges ahead. Learn more.
It's been a busy year for CHIME's public policy team and Policy Steering Committee. New MACRA regulations, changes to the meaningful use program and cybersecurity took center stage in Washington, D.C. Through it all, CHIME has proactively advocated for policies that take into account the real-world challenges facing health IT leaders. Keep up-to-date with CHIME's public policy positions.
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