HIMSS has presented three "Congressional Asks"--formal requests to Congress to accomplish specific goals to advance health IT.
These proposals will be presented to Congress during the annual HIMSS Public Policy Summit Day, Sept. 18, as part of National Health Information Technology Week, according to an announcement.
The three requests include:
1. Minimizing disruption in our nation's health system emanating from federally-mandated health IT program changes. This request notes that various federal agencies are involved in regulating aspects of health IT development and adoption, often leading to confusing and conflicting regulatory guidance.
Healthcare organizations are simultaneously pursuing multiple initiatives including Meaningful Use requirements, with its electronic Clinical Quality Measures; ICD-10; and value-based purchasing such as Accountable Care Organizations and patient-centered medical homes, while various agencies don't take into account the uncoordinated impact of all these various programs and policies.
It asks that the Department of Health and Human Services secretary, Sylvia Burwell, publish review, evaluation, and recommendations on the five-year roadmap of all mandated, HHS-administered health IT requirements and program changes.
Healthcare organizations have complained in particular that the delayed ICD-10 deadline continues to be costly.
2. Funding the National Coordinator for Health IT to achieve interoperability, improve clinical quality, and ensure patient privacy and safety. For this request, HIMSS asks Congress to approve the president's 2015 budget request for $75 million for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, $14 million more than was allotted in FY2014.
It calls this fourth year and Stage 2 of Meaningful Use a "critical juncture" for the adoption and effective use of EHRs, citing the need to maintain the momentum achieved so far.
3. Expanding telehealth services to improve patient access and outcomes and decrease healthcare costs. In this request, HIMSS urges congress to pass legislation that "enables the nationwide realization of the full benefits of telehealth services." There are six bills before Congress to expand use of telehealth, but the paper in particular points to the Telehealth Enhancement Act of 2013, which would expand Medicare payment for telehealth services.