Last year at this time, the first meaningful-use incentive payments from the CMS grabbed the headlines with January 2011 as the inaugural month for the exchange of funds between the federal government and eligible hospitals and providers.
A meaningful year
The new year brings continued health IT challenges
Now, a year later, organizations are collecting their incentive payments; the CMS distributed $2.5 billion in incentive payments through the end of December 2011, according to a year-end CMS report.
Thus, meaningful use began a year of deadlines, one that continues into 2012, as we look at not only meaningful use, but also other compliance dates. And I believe 2011 introduced more interaction between provider and patient—online and with mobile devices. But let's start with meaningful use in 2012.
Meaningful use: In my interactions as head of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society with different healthcare executives and professionals, meaningful use remains the topic of analysis and intrigue. Eligible hospitals and professionals continue to evaluate what it takes to reach Stage 1 (of meaningful use) and qualify for electronic health record incentive payments. In September 2011, HIMSS Analytics reported that 10% of U.S. hospitals reported having the capability to meet all 14 core process measures and at least five of the 10 process menu measures tracked in its study. In its December 2011 report, HIMSS Analytics noted 9% of U.S. hospitals reported this to be the case. While the overall data show a slight decrease in readiness for meeting Stage 1 of meaningful use, a number of segments showed increased capability to achieve Stage 1.
For example, the HIMSS Analytics report of September 2011 showed 17% of academic medical centers were ready to achieve Stage 1; in December 2011, that number increased to 24% of academic medical centers.
The December 2011 report also found increases in five segments of hospitals ready to reach Stage 1 of meaningful use:
- 400 to 499 beds.
- 500 or more beds.
- Urban hospitals.
- Multi-hospital systems.
- Hospitals at Stage 5, 6 or 7 on the HIMSS Analytics EMR Adoption Model.
Improving quality with health information technology has been the hallmark of those hospitals, medical practices, community health centers and public health systems that have won the HIMSS Davies Award of Excellence and been recognized by HIMSS Analytics as Stage 7 hospitals. They focus on improved patient care, fewer medical errors and integrated delivery of system of all aspects of care through health IT. These accomplishments aren't ruled by deadlines, but are ongoing, because of innovations in use of data and enhanced and integrated-care delivery.
ICD-10: Despite the pro/con positioning on implementation of ICD-10, this is the year to prepare for the Oct. 1, 2013 deadline, when providers and payers must transition to this new coding system. One deadline has already gone by with Jan. 1, 2012, as the compliance date for HIPAA-related 5010 transactions. I mention these deadlines because the work involved with them cannot be ignored or minimized. HIMSS has worked with some 30 industry organizations to develop the ICD-10 PlayBook, an online tool to help understand and meet these compliance deadlines.
mHIMSS: I've also seen new emphasis on use of mobile technologies at the point of care as clinicians and patients engage with each other. Patients want to access their own health information online. And this year, people on both sides of the stethoscope are interacting with patient portals, mobile applications and e-mail conversations.
HIMSS introduced its mHIMSS initiative in December 2011 recognizing the multiple mobile technologies available to all of us in the healthcare delivery continuum. The mHIMSS platform extends, and fulfills, our mission as a cause-based organization focused on improving healthcare delivery with the best use of health IT. Emphasizing technology, data exchange and workflow, mHIMSS includes the components of care delivery that encompass a mobile connection.
HIMSS12: At HIMSS12 (himssconference.org) on Feb. 20-24, we have new and familiar faces, sessions and exhibits. Some are focused on topics I have discussed here. Attendees can visit Knowledge Centers to find, in one location, information, educational sessions and exhibits on six topics. Collaboration continues with new conferences within our annual conference and exhibition, including Virtual HIMSS12 designed for healthcare professionals who can't travel to Las Vegas, but want to be part of HIMSS conference experience.
If you read my Feb. 6 post on the HIMSS Blog (blog.himss.org), you will find more on new conversations I expect to see this year at the conference. I have read blogs and other articles that include the vendor perspective as they talk about their involvement in helping eligible hospitals and professionals reach Stage 1 of meaningful use. With more than 1,000 exhibitors at HIMSS12, I plan to see just how much the vendor community continues this discussion, one about their valuable contributions to meeting this initial stage of meaningful use of the electronic health record.
This parlay will not end at HIMSS12 because, as of this writing, we are waiting for release of the proposed rules for Stage 2 of meaningful use. So, it looks as if I will have my theme ready for next year's column.
H. Stephen Lieber is president and CEO of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.
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