Policymakers are expecting 2013 to bring more health IT progress

Policymakers hope for continued progress in 2013
By Diana Manos
12:00 AM

For policymakers, EHRs, used meaningfully, is not only a hope, it's close to reality. At a Nov. 14 hearing held by the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation, Farzad Mostashari, MD, national coordinator for health information technology voiced his optimism.

"[O]ur progress to date has been steady and deliberate," he said. "We anticipate that the Stage 3 rules will allow us to continue to support transformed care by continuing to advance health IT capabilities by focusing on advanced clinical decision support, team-based care, improving health outcomes, population health management, and patient engagement tools."

Charles H. Romine, director of the Information Technology Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) wants to see NIST initiatives "that examine the best ways for humans to interact with next-generation health IT." NIST plans to "significantly improving medical device interoperability and making healthcare safer in the process," he told lawmakers at the Nov. 14 hearing. 

Rep. Michael C. Burgess, MD (R-TX), vice chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Health, said he would like to see better oversight in the EHR incentive program, "to address issues such as provider uptake and barriers to adoption, interoperability, the use of incentive payments thus far, and the impact of future penalties that could inadvertently harm patients and providers."

 "I hope the next year sees a greater effort to confront these issues to ensure the promise of EHR systems are realized for both patients and provider," Burgess said. "In addition, I hope continued efforts will be made to engage providers as they adopt new technologies and work to improve the quality of care delivered to patients.

"Finally, the next year provides even more opportunities for growth in the application of new technologies, such as the use of predictive modeling to prevent fraud and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid programs," he said. "The health IT industry continues to develop technological advancements, which the federal government has the potential to derive great benefit from as we aim to improve the quality and value of health care delivered in the U.S."

 John Halamka, MD, vice chair of the Health IT Standards committee hopes for accelerated interoperability in 2013, through meaningful use Stage 2.  He said he also hopes the new MU Stage 2 ecosystem results in many new modular products that accelerate innovation and that an App store for EHRs evolves.

Halamka would also like to see accountable care organization formation result in normalized data repositories that support powerful new business intelligence applications, and federated data mining techniques such as the QueryHealth initiative, empower new clinical research, comparative quality analysis, and pharmaco-vigilience, "helping to transform our data into information, knowledge, and wisdom."

Halamka said he hopes "patient engagement provisions in meaningful use Stage 2 catalyze new entrants to the healthcare consumer marketplace." In addition, he hopes that the Automated Blue Button (sending copies of records of patients) results in increased patient stewardship of their own data.