Providers might not always like it, but the federal government has taken an active role in advancing health information technology, from improving interoperability to encouraging e-prescribing to doling out incentives for meaningful use of electronic health records—or penalties for those who fail to do so.
But when Donald Trump takes office, his goals will likely be in conflict with the path the current administration has been on for the past 8 years.
In interviews with several health information technology experts, Bloomberg BNA explores the possible shifts.
Here’s a sampling:
Shift to the private sector: The incoming Trump administration may prefer a private sector-led approach to health IT implementation, reducing the direct role of the government, Stephanie Zaremba, director of government and regulatory affairs at athenahealth, told the publication. The Meaningful Use Incentive Program is the likeliest government initiative to be scaled back or otherwise changed, she said.
Cuts to funding: The incoming administration might be pressured to reduce federal funding if it needs to reallocate resources to pay for its more sweeping healthcare goals, Eric Fader, an attorney with Day Pitney LLP in New York, told Bloomberg BNA.
Focus on cybersecurity: A Trump administration would focus on healthcare cybersecurity, predicts Tom Leary, vice president of government relations at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. The new administration should also work to increase the number of cybersecurity professionals, Leary said.
Other priorities for HIMSS include Trump’s stance on telehealth, particularly for veterans and the use of IT for infrastructure improvements, Leary told FierceHealthIT in an interview shortly after last month's election.
“Whether it’s the engagement with the healthcare community on some level of the [National Institute of Standards and Technology] cybersecurity framework, or elevating the chief information security officer at HHS to more of an internal and external engagement with stakeholders and increasing the number of cyberprofessionals in healthcare, that’s an area we anticipate approaching the new administration with,” he said.
The Bloomberg article also covers how Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) might affect the health IT landscape if confirmed to head the Department of Health and Human Services.
Physicians and professional organizations are at odds over the Price nomination. The AMA quickly endorsed Price, a former orthopedic surgeon and AMA member. But a network of physicians has sprung up in opposition to him. The group posted a letter to the AMA titled “The AMA Does Not Speak for Us” and invited fellow physicians to sign it.
The Medical Group Management Association, meanwhile, says it will be keeping a close eye on how federal health IT programs such as Meaningful Use fare after January 20.
Robert Tennant, health information technology policy director with MGMA's government affairs staff, told FierceHealthIT in a previous interview that his organization plans to work closely with the administration to try to educate it about the use of health IT to drive out needless administrative costs for providers.