Halamka: Regulatory uncertainty looms large for hospital CIOs

Regulatory uncertainty and a continuing decline in available resources are among a handful of issues John Halamka (pictured), CIO at Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, anticipates will keep him up at night in the months ahead.

In the most recent entry to his Life As A Healthcare CIO blog, Halamka, a FierceHealthIT Editorial Advisory Board member, wonders whether the federal government will hold steady on announced timelines for initiatives like ICD-10 and Meaningful Use Stage 2, particularly in the face of looming challenges.

"All indications in Washington are that [ICD-10] deadlines will not be changed," Halamka says. "Yet, I'm concerned that payers, providers and government will not be ready to support the workflow change required for successful ICD-10 implementation."

With regard to Meaningful Use Stage 2, Halamka points out that while hospitals are expected to begin attestation as early as next month, certification for many support products remains an ongoing process.

"With [National Coordinator for Health IT] Farzad Mostashari's departure from ONC, the new national coordinator will have to address these challenging implementation questions against a backdrop of a Congress which wants to see the national HIT program move faster," he says.

Halamka adds that the task of tackling multiple "multi-million dollar burdens" (ICD-10, Meaningful Use Stage 2 and HIPAA) as reimbursement dollars decline and sequestration wreaks havoc on federal budgets is one that certainly will test the mettle of all health IT executives.

"The ability of provider organizations to maintain operations while implementing all the new regulatory requirements in parallel is straining healthcare operations to their limits," he says. "Safety, quality and efficiency innovations are no longer possible because regulatory requirements have consumed all available resources."

In her most recent commentary, FierceEMR Editor Marla Durben Hirsch makes the case that changes to Meaningful Use Stage 2 are "inevitable," given feedback from multiple stakeholder organizations about deadline issues, in particular.

To learn more:
- read Halamka's full post

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