HIMSS13 Federal Health Community Synergy Session Highlights

In the last Health IT Policy Update, we highlighted the federal sessions about to take place during our conference in New Orleans. As a follow-up, here are highlights of the Federal Health Community Synergy Sessions, including links to powerpoint presentations.

Leon Rodriguez, Director of the Office of Civil Rights of HHS
Jim Wieland, Principle at Ober Kaler Grimes & Shriver
Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Wieland provided an in-depth explanation of the recent HIPAA update, published by OCR, including best practices for data protection, a deep dive on the new definition of “business associate” and an overview of what’s new for consumers. Mr. Rodriguez noted that data breaches have happened and continue to be a threat, but reminded the audience that most breaches were the result of lost or stolen hardware. He also said that he anticipates hacking to be a threat that will likely grow as time goes on, and the best protection in that scenario is data encryption. A copy of the presentation is available here.

Arthur Paiva, Executive Director, Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record, U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs
Mr. Paiva focused on the VA’s Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) program, discussing the many strategies used to support veterans’ health. He pointed out that the life of a service member is cyclical in that they move from one benefit program into another (i.e. DoD, VA, employment benefits). To support a veteran, VLER has to allow information to flow freely from federal agencies, state and local agencies, and private institutions so the veteran’s record remains complete throughout his or her lifetime. Mr. Paiva presented several use cases illustrating the veteran-centric nature of VLER, and provide a vision for the future of the program. Mr. Paiva’s presentation can be accessed here.

Terry Adirim, MD, MPH, Director, Office of Special Health Affairs, HRSA
Dr. Adirim’s presentation provided a survey of the many health IT activities taking place within HRSA. Focusing on HRSA’s safety net providers, Dr. Adirim illustrated the importance of health IT in underserved communities. HRSA is devoting considerable resources to supporting health IT adoption in rural and underserved areas, and is actively promoting the achievement of meaningful use through CMS’ EHR Incentive Program. Dr. Adirim also highlighted HRSA efforts in the telehealth and mobile health space, citing their telehealth grant program and HRSA’s various text for health programs as examples. Finally, Dr. Adirim addressed the unique challenges that safety net providers face when adopting various technologies. Her presentation is available here.