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HHS Announces 2013 Agenda for Implementation of Health Information Technology

Agency expects to lower costs and improve quality of care through information exchange (Mar. 6)

Marilyn Tavenner, Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and Farzad Mostashari, MD, Acting Administrator and National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, have announced a plan to accelerate health information exchange (HIE) and to build a flow of information that is deemed essential for transforming the health care system.

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, we are improving the way care is delivered while lowering costs,” Tavenner said. “We are already seeing benefits, such as a reduction in hospital readmissions, due to these reforms. Health IT and the secure exchange of information across providers are crucial to reforming the system and must be a routine part of care delivery.”

This year, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) plans to:

  • Set aggressive goals for 2013. The HHS is setting the goal of 50% of physician offices using electronic health records (EHRs) and 80% of eligible hospitals receiving meaningful use incentive payments by the end of 2013.
  • Increase interoperability. The HHS will increase its emphasis on ensuring electronic exchange across providers.
  • Enhance the effective use of EHRs. According to the HHS, Medicare beneficiaries can now access their full Medicare records online. The HHS is working with the Veterans Administration and more than 450 different organizations to make health care information available to patients and health plan members. The HHS is also encouraging Medicare Advantage plans to expand the use of Blue Button to provide beneficiaries with one-click secure access to their health information.
  • Implement Meaningful Use Stage 2. The HHS is implementing rules that define the data that must be exchanged between Health IT systems, including how data will be structured and coded so that providers will have a uniform way to format and securely send data.
  • Underscore program integrity. The HHS says that it is taking steps to ensure that the integrity of the program is sound and that the technology is not being used to “game” the system. For example, the HHS is conducting extensive medical reviews and is issuing comparative billing reports that identify providers.

According to the agency, EHR adoption has tripled since 2010, increasing to 44% in 2012, and that computerized physician order entries have more than doubled (a 168% increase) since 2008.

Source: HHS; March 6, 2013.

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