HIMSS posts 3 Congressional asks

Industry association calls on Congress to take action in areas critical to the advancement of health IT and care delivery
By Tom Sullivan
08:04 AM
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Looking toward National Health IT Week in early October, Healthcare IT News parent HIMSS called on Congress to act in three ways.

As it does annually, HIMSS public policy team compiled a list of issues Congress should tackle in the coming year and, not surprisingly, chief among those is health information exchange. Building on those, HIMSS also called for advancements in cybersecurity and telehealth.

Specifically, here are HIMSS asks:

  1. Support robust interoperability and health information exchange. This consists of two sub-themes. One is removing the "Congressional prohibition" on the use of government money to create a national patient identifier and directing Health and Human Services to study a nationwide patient matching strategy. The second directs ONC to review and amend its EHR certification program to include "rigorous interoperability testing" of HIE standards and specifications and also directs "all federally-funded national and state government agencies to have the functionality to exchange data with healthcare institutions." 
  2. Support healthcare's efforts to combat cyber threats. As the practice of health information exchange increases, so grows the responsibility of securing that data. HIMSS hit two high points with this ask. The first is to direct HHS to identify "a single, voluntary, national health-specific IT data security framework" that includes common security practices, support implementation to improve cybersecurity, and is consistently updated. Second, HIMSS suggests establishing "a single information sharing pipeline of actionable cyber threat intelligence," from both private and government sources that is available to healthcare providers at no cost.
  3. Expand access to telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries. While current law "quixotically prevents CMS from reimbursing most providers for telehealth services and remote patient monitoring," HIMSS urges Congress to amend the "allowable originating sites of care," eliminate geographic restrictions, advance use of store and forward technologies, expand modalities to include a synchronous care, update current procedural terminology and healthcare common procedurecoding to include telehealth and remote monitoring and, finally, drive efforts to align federal and state initiatives. 

HIMSS officials plan to share the asks with Congress members during National Health IT Week, slated to take place Oct. 5-9, 2015 in Washington, D.C. 

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