The healthcare sector is helping to put the economy back on track, Tavenner said. “A lot of that is health IT.”
Tavenner told how accountable care organizations could not be operated without the health IT platform that is in play as well as the new applications that are being developed. She also credited recent reductions in central-line bloodstream infections and hospital readmissions to the nation's health IT platform.
"All of this is built around data and data-sharing," she said.
On the subject of data-sharing, Tavenner said additional information on safe harbors for federal anti-kickback laws would be released “soon.” (At a news conference soon after Tavenner's talk, the National Coordinator for Health IT, Dr. Farzad Mostashari, said extending exemptions to federal anti-kickback statutes is being considered to facilitate the sharing of health information between competing hospitals.)
Tavenner also asked attendees to help identify the educational needs that boosting health information exchange requires.
“Our focus has to be on interoperability this year,” she said. “This works better when you all take the lead.”
While IT adoption has increased rapidly among healthcare organizations, the groups that represent them—such as the American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association—have written the CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator asking for a little time to catch their breath. And it appears that this message has been heard.
Tavenner noted that there will be no additional rules released this year pertaining to the federal meaningful-use electronic health record incentive program and that the focus will be on implementation of the Stage 2 rule and determining how Stage 3 should look. And, according to an HHS news release, its focus in 2013 will be on “implementing rules that define what data must be able to be exchanged between health IT systems, including how data will be structured and coded so that providers will have one uniform way to format and securely send data.”
“2013 is going to be a busy year,” Tavenner said. “I realize we're giving you a lot of work to do.”