CMS officials are looking for their first chief health informatics officer, someone who will work on health IT strategy and connect the CMS with private industry to try to lower healthcare costs and boost interoperability.
CMS starts the search for a chief health informatics officer
To do that, the chief health informatics officer will help advance the Medicare Blue Button 2.0 program and the electronic health record incentive programs, among other efforts.
"The truth is, as the largest healthcare payer in the country, CMS should have had a CHIO function long ago," said CMS Administrator Seema Verma in a blog post published the day before the job application period closes.
"Despite today's amazing technology and decades of promises, we are not where we should be," she wrote.
Few major insurers are without someone in an equivalent role, said Jeff Smith, vice president of public policy at the American Medical Informatics Association. "This is getting CMS up to speed with everyone else."
The new officer will work not only with the CMS but also with private industry and other federal agencies, Verma said.
The payoff, will be an improved patient experience, with patients gaining control of more of their health data. Providers and payers will also benefit, she wrote.
"It's a genuinely good thing that this job opportunity is out there," Smith said, "and I hope the agency thinks about this as more than just needing someone to run MyHealthEData."
Part of the impetus for creating the new role is reaching the primary goal of the initiative: allowing patients to more effectively use their medical data, according to Verma.
"Their information should automatically follow them to all of their healthcare providers," Verma wrote. "Patients also should know how much a health service costs so they can decide whether they want it, and 'shop around' for where to get it."
The CHIO might also help the CMS create policy for reimbursing technology, such as telehealth or digital patient-monitoring, Smith said. To do that, the agency needs someone on staff who understands if digital tools work, just as it has people who understand if, for instance, knee replacements work.
"Being explicit about the 'informatics' component," he said, "is a telling thing in that they want someone who understands not just the data but the clinical importance."
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