Editor's Desk: T.W.I.G. Notes

By Tom Sullivan
09:13 AM

The Government Health IT Conference took place in our nation’s capital this week, with a lineup of speakers that included both HHS CTO Todd Park and ONC director Farzad Mostashari.

Closing the event, Mostashari said that the healthcare industry really needs a better marketplace, particularly around EHRs because there is no apples-to-apples comparison of features or pricing as things stand today.

Which is not to downplay the progress made to date. CMS' Jessica Kahn, in fact, said at the show that states are accelerating both the launch and payment of EHR incentives. In a separate session, Dixe Baker, chair of the HIT Standards Committee’s privacy and security work group explained that establishing patient trust is the “essential enabler” of EHR adoption.

The conference was not just about EHRs, of course. Two CGI Federal execs presented the 3 D’s of cloud computing, those being dazzle, deploy, and the perhaps common but not entirely inevitable disappointment. And Doug Fridsma of ONC said that next up for NwHIN is governance, and he hopes a draft NPRM will be available by late 2011 or early 2012.

Outside the show, Maine’s HIE drew early “clear opposition.” The heart of the issue is patient consent, though the HIEs communications manager Amy Landry maintained that it has always given patients the opportunity to opt out. And while the HIPAA 5010 testing day on Wednesday passed more or less quietly,  MGMA CEO William Jessee said that his organization is “growing increasingly concerned regarding the ability of medical group practices to meet the January 1 deadline.”

Back at the Government Health IT Conference, meanwhile, several attendees inquired about patient consent, along with patients’ right to access one's own EHR.

“If we fail to do everything we can to protect patients’ privacy and security,” Mostashari said, “we cannot succeed.”