Meaningful Use, information exchange, patient data matching and electronic quality measurements are among the areas of focus in 2014 for the public policy arm of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives.
CHIME will continue its work on Stages 1 through 3 of the Meaningful Use EHR incentive program in 2014--getting organizations qualified for Stage 1 and preparing for Stage 2, for example. The group also will remain active in discussions about Stage 3.
"We need more evaluation," Jeff Smith, CHIME's director of public policy said at a briefing during the group's annual fall conference in Arizona last week. "We need to see how things are going along in this space."
CHIME works with a number of other organizations, including the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, the American Health Information Management Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association. This year, one focus has been on building a coalition to support moving up the timeline for Meaningful Use Stage 2.
CHIME and others have called for a one-year extension to the deadline of the second stage of the federal incentive program. Earlier this year, CHIME called the proposed Meaningful Use Stage 3 thresholds from ONC's Health IT Policy Committee "unrealistic," and asked that ONC reconsider the speed and scale of meeting Stage 3 by 2016.
Meanwhile, as FierceHealthIT reported last week, Farzad Mostashari, recently-departed National Coordinator for Health IT, told CHIME members that they shouldn't count on a Meaningful Use Stage 2 delay.
"I think folks should assume that the timelines stick," he said at another CHIME13 session. But there is the potential for flexibility, Mostashari added, such as adding clarification in sub-regulatory guidance about what constitutes a hardship exemption.
He advised CHIME not to "make requests or suggestions or recommendations that will be difficult to meet," but rather focus on "what can be done."
Patient data matching "has been an issue of concern and a labor of love for CHIME in terms of trying to coalesce various groups to prioritize this as a fundamental issue of health information exchange," Smith said. "We've all known that this is a patient safety issue [that has] downstream impact."
Patient identification is a top priority at the federal level, as well. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT will launch a collaborative patient matching initiative to "identify common denominators and best practices" used by both private health systems and federal agencies.
And in a recent interview with FierceHealthIT, Mostashari said that the growth of health information exchange means patient matching is more important than ever.
CHIME has studied the average cost of consistently matching patients with their data, Smith said at the briefing. "It's costing a lot--tens of millions, hundreds of millions per facility."
The financial impact of patient data matching came up at another CHIME13 session, as well. Bill Spooner, CIO of San Diego's Sharp HealthCare, said patient matching efforts cost his organization roughly $1 million a year.
"Should every organization in the country have to continue to spend a million bucks a year?" Spooner asked. "I'd really like to see a study on what it would cost to create an effective [national] algorithm."
CHIME will also focus on the technical mechanics of electronic quality measurement across different programs, with an eye toward the future, as payers increasingly tie reimbursement to quality.
"Those measurements need to indicate the true quality and the true value that providers are delivering," Smith said.
Rounding out the list, CHIME's efforts on the catch-all category of accountable care will focus on population management, data analytics, electronic health records, standardization, interoperability, mobile solutions and leveraging technology to improve care, according to Smith.