HIT Policy Committee Receives Updates on Incentive Program, Privacy, Workforce Development

This week, the Health Information Technology Policy Committee (HITPC) held its May meeting. Dr. Farzard Mostashari, National Coordinator for Health IT, made opening comments on the progress of the digitization of healthcare and the struggles to adapt traditional workflows to incorporate technology as a means to improve care. HITPC Chairman Dr. Paul Tang added on to Dr. Mostashari’s comments stating that it is necessary to include the entire healthcare team, from providers to patients, in workflow improvement efforts in order take full advantage the available technology.

Robert Anthony from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) provided an update on the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program as of March 2013:

  • 77 percent of eligible hospitals have received an EHR incentive payment
  • Over 245,000 Medicare and Medicaid Eligible Providers (EP) have received an EHR incentive payment
  • 192,126 EPs and 2,874 hospitals have successfully attested under the program

The Committee received an update from Larry Wolf, Co-chair of the HITPC Certification/ Adoption Workgroup, Subgroup on Health IT Workforce Development. The Workgroup was charged to make recommendations to the HITPC so that within one year, health IT training needs and competencies are identified and tools for implementation are recommended.

The group identified three sets of workers:  Health workers at the point of care, and those that support them; IT and informatics professionals; and, Information systems technologist, including developers, operators, implementers. The workgroup made recommendations to the HITPC, many focused on the use and dissemination of existing resources on development programs and best practices. The group also recommended the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) seek Standard Occupational Classification to address the Health IT Community.

Joy Pritts, Chief Privacy Officer at ONC, delivered the ONC Privacy and Security Update on recent  privacy regulations including the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) Modifications to Health Information Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) or the HIPAA Omnibus, Executive Order 13636— Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity and the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace(NSTIC): Health Related Pilot.

The Privacy and Security Tiger team also provided an update to the HITPC on Non-Targeted Queries for Direct Treatment Purposes.  The Tiger Team did not see the need for further policy around non-targeted queries, as they thought standing policy recommendations would address any outlying situations. After discussion, the HITPC tasked the Tiger Team to revisit non-targeted queries and report back to the Committee.

The HITPC also heard from John Halamka, Vice Chair of the Health Information Technology Standards Committee (HITSC), on the HITSC Workplan.  HITSC solicited input from the HITPC on such topics as transport of data to and from patients, standards to support image exchange and genomic data in EHRs.

Doug Fridsma of ONC briefed the HITPC on the Standards & Interoperability (S&I) Framework including highlights on operating metrics and pilots. Jodi Daniel, from the Office of Policy and Planning at ONC, delivered the ONC Policy and Program Update featuring discussion on the Governance Framework for Trusted Electronic Health Information Exchange, the National Survey on Health Information Exchange in Clinical Laboratories, and the Achieving eHealth Equity Report.

PolicyFederal AffairsHITPC