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

By Tom Sullivan
10:42 AM

IT initiatives underpinning the future of healthcare constitute a puzzle of sorts, and one that is rather tricky to patch together.

Fitting two of those seemingly disparate pieces – HHS Health Data Initiative and the meaningful use of EHRs – Todd Park told Government Health IT during this interview that “there are going to be a lot of intersections,” particularly in supporting care delivery and payment reform.

Park also mentioned that three-letter acronym so many folks consider a dirty word: ACO, as in accountable care organization. That discussion raged on, again, this week when KPMG published survey results indicating payers and providers, even those with an interest in the model, are holding out to see what the final rule brings before even wading in. Those folks, it appears, are hoping that CMS lightens the criteria for qualifying – and evidence emerged this week that it might do just that.

Speaking of criteria, over at ONC, director Farzad Mostahsari said that stage 2 meaningful use will closely resemble the recommendations an advisory panel made, which include new measures and a delay until 2014, the reason for which has been tied to other IT projects such as the unfunded ICD-10 mandate. Extra time will be welcome by some, though not likely by anyone calling for ICD-10 to be pulled under the meaningful use umbrella, for the ICD-10 compliance deadline of October 1, 2013 to pushed back until providers can make it through EHR projects, or perhaps for it to garner more than a mere ONC mention.

Some questions are almost fated to be asked, and Jeff Rowe tackles one of the inevitables: Wither meaningful use? Even if it is a bit early to posit that one, Rowe forges ahead on the grounds of wondering “how long MU is going to continue in its current form and function.” That answer may, or may not, relate to the aforementioned recommended delay.

State agencies, in the meantime, are pruning HIEs to best shape the thorny ‘patient consent’ issue after a fashion that balances privacy and security with the benefits of health information exchange, the verb.

Indeed, as health IT becomes more consumer-friendly – despite the demise of Google Health and reactions to that – new security issues will crop up. Healthcare IT News’ Molly Merrill breaks out the Top 5 security threats in healthcare, replete with advice on what to do about them.

Still to come this week: Senior Editor Mary Mosquera is reporting on the VA’s plan to let doctors and other employees start using mobile devices, and not jus the iPad either with veterans health data. And the ACO debate rages on one payer, who spoke at a conference, took the bi-partisan stance that large provider networks should start laying the bricks for shared savings and bundled payments because even a White House administration change won’t rattle that program.

Be sure to check back at Government Health IT.com for those stories and more. And enjoy the long Independence Day weekend!