Greenway's Barnes talks next steps

By Diana Manos
04:17 PM
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Few in the health IT industry don’t know Justin Barnes, vice president of industry and government affairs at the Atlanta-based Greenway Health. He can frequently be seen in Washington on advisory missions to the White House and other leadership work on Capitol Hill. He’s one of those people who just seems to be everywhere.

The 11-year Greenway veteran Barnes, who also serves as chairman emeritus of the HIMSS Electronic Health Record Association and co-chair of the Accountable Care Community of Practice, revealed that he will be leaving the vendor at the end of this month.

“I feel tremendously blessed to be a part of the Greenway family, but at this point in my life and career I’m ready for new challenges and new opportunities,” he told Government Health IT.

Barnes has several irons in the fire. Some of them involve building health IT start-up companies and providing health IT consulting, “though not as a hired gun.” The “ink hasn’t dried” on some of these plans, which Barnes says he may be ready to announce later this summer. Barnes also hopes to make some ventures into the non-health IT private sector, and remaining part of the health IT thought leadership definitely remains on his radar, which may include some work with various think tanks.

At this juncture of his career, I took the opportunity to ask Barnes his thoughts on some of the pressing questions currently on the table.

Q: With all the controversy surrounding meaningful use Stage 2, what are your thoughts?

A: I’m bullish on meaningful use Stage 2. It has all the essential components to help healthcare going forward. It’s a natural evolution from patient-centered medical homes to accountable care and other value-based care.

Q: What do you think is holding up interoperability?

A: We have most of the technical infrastructures we need, but one of the glaring barriers is that we don’t have business drivers for interoperability. We don’t have those payment models that are based on care coordination and quality improvement.

Q: With so many unknowns in healthcare today, is it a good place to be?

A: Healthcare is a tremendous place to be. There is more opportunity than ever before. There’s more innovation, more growth in the right direction than ever before. It’s a phenomenal place to be and why I am taking this next step with my career to participate at another level.

Q: Do you have any idea how the measure to postpone ICD-10’s implementation date got into the SGR legislation?

A: My gut is it was put in by a congressional staffer in an effort to appease a constituency, not realizing the economic impact it would impose on our country and how it would delay our nation’s healthcare transformation goals.

Q: Do you think ICD-10 will ever happen?

A: ICD-10 will happen. It’s what the future of healthcare is built on, and it has the granularity we’ll need.

Barnes considers some of his crowning achievements to be helping Greenway go public in 2012, helping with the creation and implementation of meaningful use and foreseeing the advent of accountable care as a major change in the industry.

He worked under both the Bush and the Obama Administrations on health IT and was invited to the White House three times in 2013 for advisory activity. All-in-all, he has formally addressed or testified before Congress as well as the past two Presidential Administrations on 15 occasions between 2005 and 2014.

See also:

EHR certification: Where to steer from here

CMS foretells new ICD-10 date, but will it ever actually happen?