This post was authored by Farzad Mostashari, MD, ScM, deputy national coordinator for programs and policy within the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
When I talk to people about why the Obama Administration is investing billions of dollars in health information technology (IT) I tell them it’s not about technology, it’s about helping improve care and outcomes through better information. To be sure, a first step in that process is increasing adoption of electronic health record systems (EHRs), which has more than doubled over the past two years to 34% among all office-based physicians and 35% at acute care hospitals.
But just as important is the need for providers who have EHRs to use them in meaningful ways, which is what the HITECH Act is really trying to achieve. Just like a piano is not much use if no one ever plays it, EHR are worthwhile only if providers use them to help deliver high quality care and improve health outcomes. Meaningful use means using EHRs to help clinical information follow patients through the care process, coordinate care among providers, and better manage chronic diseases, as well as enabling patients to become more engaged in their own care. Meaningful use of certified EHRs also provides information tools that cardiologists and other providers need in order to succeed in a delivery system that is increasingly rewarding high quality care rather than high quantity care.
Given the prevalence of cardiovascular disease in the United States, it is particularly important that cardiologists embrace advanced information technology. So far more than 2,500 cardiologists have successfully attested to Meaningful Use, collecting nearly $45 million in Medicare incentive payments. Congratulations to those who have achieved Meaningful Use – I’m greatly encouraged by your success! But I also know there’s plenty of room for these numbers to grow. The ACC has committed to getting 8,000 of its members to Meaningful Use by the end of the year. It’s an ambitious goal, but it’s also achievable and I look forward to reaching (or even surpassing) it in the months ahead.
The proposed rules for Stage 2 for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive programs, and accompanying EHR certification, aim to move the Incentive programs forward in a balanced, impactful way. Among the proposed changes, providers will have more ways of reporting quality measures, including registries, and there will be greater alignment among quality reporting measures among HHS programs. The standard for exchanging clinical information will be more robust than Stage 1 and more emphasis will be placed on making information available to patients. Providers will also no longer be required to purchase certified EHR systems that perform functions which they don’t need in order to achieve Meaningful Use – that means EHRs can be more geared to specific specialties and still qualify for incentive payments. We’d love to get your input on these rules, so I would strongly encourage members of ACC to submit comments on the two proposed rules through May 7.
I am also pleased to recognize the winners of the Investing in Innovation initiative’s (i2) One in a Million Hearts Challenge, which asked multi-disciplinary teams of innovators to create technology applications that activate and empower patients to pursue healthy lifestyles and improve their heart health. The i2 initiative utilizes prizes and challenges to facilitate innovation and obtain solutions to intractable health IT problems. The winner of the One in a Million Hearts Challenge is Team THUMPr, which will be awarded $50,000. The second and third place teams, mHealthCoach and Wellframe, will be awarded $20,000 and $5,000, respectively.
Please note that statements or opinions expressed herein reflect the views of the contributor, and do not reflect the official views of the ACCF, unless otherwise noted.
For more information about Health IT visit CardioSource.org.